Mental Health Awareness Week: The amazing efforts our schools have made to honour such a critical occasion

17th May 2024

Looking after our mental health has never been as critical as it is today – not just for adults, but for children and young people, too. You only have to pay attention to the statistics to realise we have an epidemic on our hands.


For example, one in six people report experiencing a common mental health problem (like anxiety and depression) in any given week in England. Similarly, a recent survey from the NHS revealed that one in five children and young people had a probable mental disorder in 2023.


Mental Health Awareness Week isn’t a nice-to-have, but rather a must-have, which is why it’s been so incredible to watch our region’s schools come together to mark this occasion in one special way or another.


The theme for this year is “Move Your Way” to promote how exercise has been proven to reduce anxiety and depression. So naturally, many schools took this as an opportunity to, yep, encourage young people to get those bodies moving!


Making a noise on social media


We can’t expect positive, long-lasting change if nobody is aware of the true problem in the first place… For Mental Health Awareness Week, schools across the North East put huge effort into raising awareness and highlighting the importance of moving more and looking after our mental health.


Mowden Hall (Newcastle), Astley Community High School (Seaton Delaval), Thorp Academy (Ryton), and North Gosforth Academy (Seaton Burn) each made noise on X (formerly Twitter), encouraging followers to research further into the topic, and move more where possible.


King’s Priory School (North Shields) in particular shared some fantastic advice: Why not use the time you spend waiting, moving? Like when the kettle’s boiling!


The efforts to raise awareness extended beyond social media, too. Hadrian Park Primary School (Wallsend) encouraged everybody to wear GREEN today (Friday 17 June) to unite the school community and get everyone talking about mental health.


Assemblies and tailored lesson plans


This week, some schools took part in specific lesson plans and assemblies to explore mental health on a deeper level, ensuring pupils felt equipped with the necessary tools and knowledge to make better choices.


Y1 pupils at Coquet Park First School (Whitley Bay) participated in a ‘live lesson’ which helped them learn all about different emotions and how to deal with them. To keep within the theme, they finished the afternoon lesson with Jump Start Johnny – an engaging children’s fitness programme.


Pupils at Ayresome Primary School (Middlesbrough) have also been very energetic this week. Archery, sports, and litter picking are just three activities that pupils engaged with as part of their #MoveMore campaign. What a lovely range!


Over at Newcastle High School for Girls, KS2 started the week off right with an active assembly that had students up on their feet, rolling their arms, and smiling from ear to ear.


A huge shout-out to our region’s amazing school colleagues


Leading by the very best example, various staff across our region’s schools and trusts also made an effort to highlight the importance of Mental Health Awareness Week.


Staff at Bishop Chadwick Catholic Education Trust (which has 25 primary schools and five secondaries across East Durham, South Tyneside and Sunderland) even turned the occasion into healthy competition.


Colleagues at St Matthew’s Catholic Primary School in Jarrow set themselves a challenge to see who can achieve the largest step count this half-term, with prizes including special treats such as… having their break time covered!


Some staff members are taking it super seriously and even going for evening jogs, and the whole school is organising an end-of-term hike, too. Now that’s how you get people moving more.


We must also give a very special shout-out to Charlie at Red House School (Stockton on Tees). While not quite a staff member, Charlie is the school’s wellness dog who consistently brings joy to the community. He participates in a wide variety of activities, including wellness walks and helping Dr Ashcroft deliver birthday cards to pupils.


And last but certainly not least, we’d like to say a huge ‘well done’ to Evolve Academy, a special educational needs school in Sunderland that has recently been accredited with the School Mental Health Award gold standard.


The gold accreditation from Carnegie Centre of Excellence for Mental Health in Schools is the highest band awarded and there were no recommendations for improvement in its assessment of Evolve. Is there a better way to start Mental Health Awareness Week?


There’s still time to get involved


This article barely scratches the surface of all the amazing hard work that’s taken place across our schools this week! If you too made an effort to raise awareness, share information, or participate in some kind of energetic activity, you should be extremely proud.


And don’t forget that we should be making an effort to look after our mental health every week, not just this week!


So on that note, why not join us at next week’s Healthy MindED Conference, which is taking place on Tuesday 21 May in Gateshead? The theme of this year’s event is ‘Building a Culture of Resilience’ and will have inspiring keynote speakers, interactive workshops, and actionable takeaways to help you build a school where resilience triumphs.


Book now.