I have recently been writing about the alternative pop-up club pastoral interventions we have been delivering in our school to support young people facing challenges linked to mental health.
The activities were based on Heads Together advice: they suggested when talking to a young person, about something personal, try doing something creative or active whilst having the conversation.
We launched 4 different time bonded interventions:
1. A weekend of bread making;
2. A 6 week after school Chefs challenge where the students were expected to cook a 2-course meal to cook and share a meal
3. a 6-week bushcraft challenge encourage team bonding, grit, refelction drawing on the resources found in the woods;
4. the bicycle challenge where they were given an old bicycle and over 6 weeks taught how to repair and replace the old parts with new ones and then cycled away with their ‘new’ bike.
The sessions were as rewarding for the range of adults delivering the non-directive therapy as it was for the young people. The interventions themselves were simple but because the young person was creatively engaged and in a relaxed environment it allowed for deep, sincere sharing.
We are still going through all the data and measuring the positive impact but there is one factor that stood out for so many young people facing MH challenges:
I’m sure you have read the press coverage over the last decade about how Loneliness is one of the biggest killers for the elderly. But have you read this one from the Guardian writer Stefanie Marsh? Teenagers on loneliness: We want to talk to our parents, we need their guidance.
The article is a fascinating read and exposes the misconception that social media on its own causes loneliness. This quote from the 1 teenager interviewed really struck a chord:
I’d say that loneliness is caused by parents who don’t take an interest in their kids. It has to go beyond: ‘How was your day?’ – ‘Oh, they said fine, so that’s my role done.’ I see friends who have stay-at-home mums and they are still lonely
I am a 5 day working mum and as teacher that also means at least 3 hours a weekend staying on top of it all. I know the pitfall of being grateful for the “digital babysitter” and relying on its ability to remove their need for any connection in the real world and therefore demands on me. When you have something pressing to do you actually want them to ‘disconnect’ with you. After a few years, the warning signs were there - I soon realized that if I did not take control of my work-life balance, use of digital media and the time I allowed my children to ‘disconnect’ from Real time with family and friends then the mental health and wellbeing of our whole family unit would rapidly deteriorate.