Victoria College students ‘Speak Up’ about male mental health

We will be cultivating a culture in which our students can 'Speak Up' about their emotions, removing the stigma around boys and men talking about their mental health. Our Student Council highlighted mental health as topic they wanted to concentrate attention on this academic year; our activities in school following World Mental Health day marks the beginning of this focus, with strategies in place to educate, outline support pathways, and encourage our students to speak up about their feelings.

In order to cultivate a culture of speaking up, we will start the week with assemblies and activities in tutor time, which highlight why there can still be a stigma around men speaking about their wellbeing. Some of our male members of staff will be speaking in assemblies about the challenges they have faced with their mental health, acting as role models to break down stigma. Throughout the week in Years 7 to 8, PSHE lessons will focus on mental health, with the student counsellor also running activities focused on speaking up. Students in Y10-13 will explore the stigma around male mental health through PSHE with their tutors.

In addition to this, we have also made commitments to training both our staff and students in mental health. We will be training our staff and then our students to become Mental Health Peer Educators, through the Mental Health Foundation's programme. Our year 12 educators will then deliver PSHE to our Year 7 students, becoming mental health ambassadors. Furthermore, we have committed to ensuring all our pastoral team are trained by Mind Jersey as Mental Health First Aiders, to ensure that all of our students have the best possible support with their wellbeing.

One of our strategic goals in this academic year is to foster an inclusive, safe and supportive community, where every student can thrive in a culture of kindness. As a Rights Respecting School, we align Article 6 with this culture of kindness, ensuring that we support each child in 'developing to their full potential', alongside Article 24, which states that, 'children and young people have the right to be both physically and mentally fulfilled.' As our Student Council choose this focus on mental health, we also further the development of article 12 in our community, where students' voices are heard and they are involved in the decision making of the school.

Our students were also clear that they wanted us to become a more inclusive community by celebrating diversity and making positive contributions to our local community. To fulfil these goals we are also making Friday 16th October a dress down day, with money raised being split between Mind Jersey and The Mental Health Foundation. In addition to this, Braithwaite House have also decided to raise further funds for Mind Jersey by organising a staff versus prefects football match and a cake sale.

In a recent survey by the charity, 'Time to Change,' 39 per cent of men said they had had a disappointing reaction when they shared things about their mental health in the past and only a quarter of men would openly tell their friends if they were struggling with their mental health. Consequently, as well as focusing on our students speaking up, we will also be communicating with our parents and carers about how to listen. Our next steps will then we educating our students about how they can support and listen to their friends.