Embracing mental health: Our peer mentor scheme and World Mental Health Day

October 9, 2023

World Mental Health Day – Tuesday 10th October

In a world that’s always on the move, it’s essential to take a moment to pause and reflect on something that matters profoundly to our school – mental health. Here, we take this responsibility incredibly seriously and are committed to promoting mental wellbeing among our students and staff. As World Mental Health Day approaches on October 10th, we want to share our efforts and highlight the significance of this event year-round.

“Mental health is at the forefront of our pastoral care across our whole school community. We have invested time and resources into training our staff to better equip them to deal with the increasing mental health challenges we are presented with.  Our wellbeing initiatives across the schools have been well received, and in time, our whole school strategy should become embedded in our daily routine. We need to remember that our own wellbeing is primarily our responsibility but, as individuals and as part of a community, we can all do more to support each other. Self-care is also an important factor in having good mental health ourselves and we should make time to do the things that we enjoy, and not feel guilty about it!”  Sarah Fowler, Head of Wellbeing.

Our Peer Mentor and Buddy Breakfast program

Alongside our dedicated, highly experienced pastoral and wellbeing team, we are incredibly proud of our successful Peer Mentor program. We currently have 20 Sixth Form Peer Mentors who have undergone training to become beacons of support for their fellow students across the school. They’re not just here to listen; they’re here to empathize, share their own experiences, and create a safe space for everyone.

All 20 Peer Mentors from Year 12 have also completed Level 1 safeguarding training, an essential component of providing a secure environment for all students. And there’s more to come – they will soon receive training in Mental Health First Aid to deepen their understanding and knowledge.

Last year, we introduced a program called the Buddy Breakfast, which was successfully piloted at Monmouth School for Boys. The initiative brought together Peer Mentors, Prefects, and other support programs like ‘Shelf Help’ and ‘Happy Café’ in an informal and friendly setting at our school library. It’s a chance to talk and share experiences in a safe, judgement free zone, over hot chocolate and croissants! Buddy Breakfasts not only proved to be popular but also highly effective in guiding all our students towards the help and resources available to them. We’re thrilled to announce that the Buddy Breakfasts are returning this year, not only at the boys’ school but also at Monmouth School for Girls.

Prioritizing Mental Health

Our school’s commitment to mental health reaches beyond student support. We believe that staff members are crucial pillars in this endeavour. To date, approximately 75% of our school staff have received training in Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA). This commitment to training extends to our Housemasters, Heads of Year, Resident Tutors, and Boarding Matrons, who have completed the full YMHFA training.

But it doesn’t stop there. Over 50 staff members have participated in Papyrus Suicide Prevention training programs, and 11 senior-level staff are fully trained in Adult Mental Health First Aid. Additionally, 28 staff members have completed the full two-day ASIST suicide prevention training program.

Last year, we extended the Youth Mental Health First Aid training to our Peer Mentors, Senior Prefects, Mental Health and Wellbeing Prefects, and our Mental Health Ambassadors, with remarkable success. These skills not only benefit their current roles within the school, but will also equip them for the future. We will be running the same course this term for our new cohort of Prefects to up-skill them for their vitally important roles.

World Mental Health Day – Let’s Talk

World Mental Health Day is the perfect opportunity for us to join a global conversation about mental health. This year’s official theme is ‘Mental health is a universal human right.’ It’s a day to raise awareness, break stigmas, and emphasize the importance of seeking help when needed.

On World Mental Health Day, Tuesday, October 10th, we’re excited to participate in #HelloYellow hosted by the charity Young Minds, a campaign that supports young people’s mental health. We’re inviting our students to wear a splash of yellow alongside their regular uniforms for a small donation of £1 alongside a mouth-watering bake sale at the school for our pupils, a chance to raise funds for this vital cause.

Mental health is everyone’s concern, and World Mental Health Day is a reminder that we can all contribute to creating a world where mental health is valued, understood, and supported. Let’s continue our journey towards fostering a culture of wellbeing and empathy within our school community. Together, we can make a difference.