Mental Health and Wellbeing at Ivybridge Community College
For about eighteen months, we have been raising awareness significantly of both Mental Health and Wellbeing at the College in the context of both staff and students.
A core group have engaged with the 'Three Principles of Mind, Thought and Consciousness' philosophy. This is a framework that explains what underpins the world we experience: how we are essentially biased by our thoughts which can lead us to creating an illusionary truth - in other words our thinking creates and dictates our experience of life. Our consciousness brings our thoughts to life and this is where we can become unfocused and even lost. For example, we can wake from a nightmare with all of the fight or flight response activated yet there is no danger: we have created an illusionary truth and our consciousness has made it real and therefore we react according. In essence it is 'I think; therefore, I am' Descartes.
The Main Principles of the Inner Diamond:
We are all strong and resilient; however we lose sight of our inner-strength because of negative cognition and how we over-think situations and experiences. By simply being aware of this over-thinking, we can begin to make choices about what is real and why we are creating as an illusionary world. We need to remind ourselves that we are not mind readers; we often have a tendency to interpret people's actions and behaviours in a negative way based on guesswork and over-thinking. Furthermore, mental health is akin to physical health and therefore changeable. Consequently, we can expect a rollercoaster of emotions through a day, a week, or a month. When we are down we need to remind ourselves that we will soon be up again and this will not last forever. The analogy of the common cold works well. No medication can cure the common cold, however there are ways to alleviate its symptoms and, in essence, with time we will cure ourselves. The same is for mental health and we need to trust in the intelligent design of the human and our ability to recover. In teaching the students this philosophy we are:
1. Showing them that is every day and normal to talk about mental health - it is not a dark secret.
2. We are all strong and resilient in essence.
3. The only person who can fix us is ourselves.
These three points highlight why this approach is so important to the College and the mental health of the students - we are setting up a proactive approach for the students to be able to deal with the very normal cycle of life's stress rather than a reactive one, for example, dealing with examination stress in Years 11 and 13.
A small focus group was developed in January 2018 after the initial raising of awareness of mental health at the College. This group has been working in liaison with external coaches to develop their resilience. In essence, they have been introduced to the Inner Diamond Philosophy which has shown them how they are resilient and strong and confident and also how our natural disposition is to over-think a situation and focus on the negatives. The Diamond Group have gone from strength the strength and are now helping Year 7 students in a bid to develop a proactive, rather than reactive, ethos about mental health at the College.
Incredibly, they have presented their paradigm in terms of explaining the lack of resilience in the youth of today at a national Resilient Young Minds’ Conference. This was live streamed around the world, so our students are being real pioneers for the youth of today. Their message was very well received and we are leading the way with well-being in schools.
Furthermore, they were so passionate about raising awareness of mental health issues in College that Gary Streeter (local MP) was invited to hear what they had to say. He was so impressed with their strength of argument, clarity of thought and maturity in response to the Green Paper on Well-Being that he agreed to collate their voices into a speech and present it to Westminster, (but only after the students had checked it!).