The Optimus blog

The blog that inspires leaders in the UK education sector

Mental health and wellbeing

Sofia Correia A...

Be the writer of your life story: why we need to express emotions

It can be a struggle for young people to acknowledge overwhelming emotions and how to express them. In Using Poetry to Promote Talking and Healing, Dr. Pooky Knightsmith outlines how we can help students to express their emotions clearly and safely. Poetry can open up discussion In Using Poetry to...
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Dr Pooky Knightsmith

Be better at understanding and responding to self-harm

When we take a little time to understand the reasons young people self-harm, it quickly becomes apparent that we need to tailor our response to reflect those reasons. If we respond with a one size fits all approach to self-harm, we might help in the short term, but if we want to provide safe,...
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Caroline Hounsell

Anxiety in schools: 8 tips for teachers

Understanding the causes and symptoms of anxiety is essential when learning how to best support pupils in school. Caroline Hounsell from Mental Health First Aid England explains what schools need to know. What is leading to the growing epidemic of anxiety amongst children and young people? This is...
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Elizabeth Holmes

Why teacher mental health matters – and how to improve it

With a third of the teaching workforce predicted to leave the profession by 2020, Elizabeth Holmes explores the links between positive mental health, productivity and retention. To think too much is a disease. (Fyodor Dostoyevsky) Research by the Education Support Partnership has revealed that over...
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Sara Boomsma

Anxiety: a growing epidemic?

The pressure placed on pupils today is ever mounting. Expectations and social pressures leave some pupils unable to cope. Here are some top tips for supporting pupils with anxiety. The pressure placed on pupils today is ever mounting. Expectations surrounding academic achievement, coupled with...
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Sara Boomsma

Let’s talk about mental health

For Children’s Mental Health Week, two colleagues share their experiences of having friends and family with mental health difficulties. Sara’s story This important week has made me reflect on my own experiences of being a sibling of someone with mental health difficulties, and why it is always...
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Elizabeth Holmes

Staff wellbeing: avoiding burnout in the run-up to Christmas

The festive season is upon us, and whether you celebrate Christmas or not, there’s no doubt that reaching this point in the school year can be an exhausting experience. Elizabeth Holmes outlines research from City University on the importance of taking a break over the holidays, to ensure staff...
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Katie Renton

Equipping your staff to support mental health needs

A healthy mind is an essential ingredient for a young person’s development. Ensure your staff are trained to know the triggers and to support pupils in need. Children and young people face many challenges in their developing years. Navigating their way through societal pressures, stress and...
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Elizabeth Holmes

A toolkit for teachers for supporting mental health

Natasha Devon explains how schools can best equip teachers for the rigours of supporting young people who are suffering. In part one of this conversation we explored the prevalence of mental health distress in children and young people and how the teaching profession may respond to that. What might...
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Elizabeth Holmes

Championing wellbeing with Natasha Devon

Charged with helping to raise awareness and reduce the stigma around young people’s mental health, Natasha Devon MBE was named as the government’s mental health champion for schools. Elizabeth Holmes finds out more. Natasha Devon is seen as an inspiration to many young people. As founder of the...
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