It would be wrong not to spend time this week focusing on mental health and well-being: through the #HelloYellow, Rotherham’s ‘Be the One’ campaign and that the World Health Organisation recognises World Mental Health Day on 10 October every year – this year’s theme, set by the World Federation for Mental Health, is ‘Mental Health in an Unequal World’.

We all recognise that the COVID pandemic has dramatically impacted on the lives of children and young people across the country and beyond. We know that many found the lockdown particularly hard and struggled to cope with social isolation, anxiety, a loss of structure and fears about their future. Many with mental health problems have also lost their coping mechanisms – including seeing friends or taking part in routine activities. Right now, we all need something to look forward to. We need to show young people they are not alone with their mental health and encourage them to reach out for support if they need it. That’s why #HelloYellow is more important than ever this year.

Rotherham is, in tandem with this, pursuing the ‘Be the One’ campaign. This campaign will be very relevant to those children and young people with whom we work. And I do not want to deflect from the importance of us all working with our children and young people; we will continue to do that with sensitivity and professionalism. However, could I just take a moment to allow us all to reflect upon the importance of good mental health and well-being for the staff (the adults)? Sometimes we may, working with children and young people, lose sight of the importance of ensuring that our own mental health and well-being is strong and healthy. I implore you to take some time to reflect upon how you are, as an individual. Can I ask that we also take time to look out for our friends and family? That’s why I am taken by the Rotherham ‘Be the One’ campaign.

‘Be the One’ asks us all to: be the one to talk; be the one to listen; be the one to care. Although the focus is on preventing suicide, and that may well be too far along the spectrum for most of us, the ‘Be the One’ message is a simple and yet powerful way of framing how we might shape our thinking and support for our friends and family.

And what about you? Are you looking after yourself? If that bit isn’t right the rest cannot follow. I’m not one to tell you what will work for you; you’ll know what that is. I will say, though, that your mental health and well-being is the foundation, the lynchpin. I recognise that many of us work in a challenging environment and there are few ways in which that your load can be lifted, however, we do work hard, in this community, to help each other lighten that load. We hope that we can all talk about what is working.

Be reassured that Inspire Trust is an organisation driven by a desire to provide a truly outstanding and inspirational educational experience for all its pupils and students. Underpinning this aspiration, is an equal commitment to being a wonderful place to work and a valued and impactful community asset. Inspire Trust will be: A safe place for everyone.

You know that I believe passionately in what we do. We are in the business of changing lives; for and with our children and young people. We have a desire to present this community with the very best educational provision. We want to make a difference. That emphasis won’t change but we will ensure that the culture within this Trust, within each institution, is such that all can make a contribution in as supportive an environment as possible.

‘There is no health without mental health; mental health is too important to be left to the professionals alone, and mental health is everyone’s business.’ Vikram Patel

Take some time to talk. Take some time for yourself. Where you can, and if you can, take some time for your friends and family.