It’s good to talk

The longest half term trundles on. This half term is a significant proportion of the academic year and in this context, we still all have to manage day to day with the ongoing COVID crisis. Our schools and the college continue to respond to government guidance, public-health guidance and the circumstances on the ground. As professionals we won’t always get it right; there’s been nothing to prepare us for these events and this time. However, we will always endeavour to communicate effectively and regularly with our community; the pupils and students and their families. We will continue to do our best and we know that you will all accept those endeavours. There will be times when we won’t always get it right but it won’t be for the want of trying. Your support, your patience and your willingness to go the extra mile in support of your schools and your college is very much appreciated at this extremely difficult time.

In our schools and college we have, for many years, actively promoted positive mental health and well-being. I want to publicly thank those individual colleagues who have been front and centre in those campaigns and for having kept this issue at the forefront of our attention. We have supported the ‘hello yellow’ campaign for many years now and we continue to put the mental health and well-being of our pupils, students and staff at the heart of all our decision making and strategic planning. We know that we are in the people business and being able to work alongside our pupils, young people and our staff to support themselves, with their mental health and well-being, is vital to the success of our institutions. Morally it is the right thing to do and it is clearly the sensible thing to do. I know that we all now more widely understand that one’s mental well-being does rest within oneself and the wider work environment does not create our sense of vulnerability (if that is the case). However, we do recognise that our immediate environment can help or hinder. Our support for and our willingness to discuss positive mental health and well-being is critical to the success of our communities. We value the individuals who work with us and want to work with them to create the conditions which would allow them (us all) to be as healthy as they (we) can possibly be.

World Mental Health day (officially Saturday 10th October but recognised this week in schools and in the college) does not in itself solve any problems. It does, though, remind us all of what we can do individually and collectively in support of our mental health and well-being. We all recognise that we cannot hand off to someone else care for our mental health, but by putting World Mental Health day in our calendars and by recognising its importance we make some clear statements about who we are as individuals and what we aspire to collectively. Your teachers and your support colleagues are human too. They are just trying to do their best in awfully difficult circumstances. Just occasionally, we need to give them a break – they have wants, needs, cares and woes, as we all do.

At this time, I don’t think we can underplay the impact of life and the crisis on each and every one of us. We will all find different ways of coping and managing. In recognising and celebrating World Mental Health day we make a strong statement to each other that we care, we are willing to listen and we want to help. That should give us all confidence in taking positive steps forward with our mental health and well-being. In the words of the old British telecom advert – it’s good to talk!

‘They call me mellow yellow
(Quite rightly)
They call me mellow yellow…’   Donovan

 ‘As a man sow, shall he reap. and I know that talk is cheap. But the heat of the battle is as sweet as the victory.’ Bob Marley

Talk to each other Share your load and make sure that you do whatever you need to do to ensure that you feel strong and able to cope in the coming weeks.