I hope that you’ve had a good working week.

It’s a week when we’ve recognised, in our schools and college, World Mental Health Day, through the #HelloYellow campaign. For many years we would look to focus, at least for this particular day, on the issues of mental health. It seemed then to be something taboo; to be spoken about in hushed, whispered tones. I am so pleased that, through campaigns such as #HelloYellow and the positivity and openness with which quite a number of famous faces (including member of the Royal family) and celebrities have drawn a focus to the ongoing need for us all to consider carefully our own mental health and the mental health of others, societally and individually we are all so much more open to a discussion and debate. The ‘game changer’ has been drawing the connections and comparisons between physical and mental health. If you’ve got a sprained ankle you’d seek some help and support. We are now more likely to seek help for our mental ‘sprained ankle’ and, critically, services will now listen and do not dismiss.

I hope that you all know how much I value the work under-taken with and for our children and young people. You know how seriously I take the commitment that the staff body and the parents offer. It’s true to say that, when you work in education, in schools, in the college, you give a little bit of yourself in and through every interaction. It can be like that as a parent too. It can be truly attritional. Every day is like receiving a light sandpapering – so people pay for that kind of thing and there is a whole spa industry built on it! We all get that mental, emotional sandpapering every single day. Most of us won’t notice that mild irritation, but for some of us we can become raw and a little sore. At this time of year, it is important that we find a way of relieving that attrition; applying the metaphorical sudocrem.

We’ve got a half term break upon the horizon, and most of us will have some time off planned.

Before then there’s a weekend to be had. It’ll be cooler than last weekend but at least it’s more in line with what might be expected at this time of year. Take some time for you!

All of this comes at a time when we are all over-whelmed by the horrendous images and testimony coming out of Israel and Gaza. This is no time and no place for politics. It just is awfully difficult to comprehend the degree of human suffering. I have no words, no platitudes, no wisdom.  I just appreciate that you may well be affected by the events.

It’s awfully difficult to find some sunlight in these very dark times. There will be light. There is good news but it is understandably lost in the whirlwind of pain and suffering brought via our media; be that traditional old news channels or fresh new social media feeds. As we might say in support of someone suffering a mental health crisis, try to focus on those things that you can control, focus on the good things that you can see and stay as positive as one can be about your own life, community, friends and family.

Not so much of a jolly note to end the week, but I do need to be realistic. If all of my messages were sunshine and flowers you’d barely read or believe a word that was written. We are realistic, we are honest, we face our challenges head on, yet we remain optimistic, we see the good, we see the light and the shade, we know that our schools, our college, our colleagues, our communities, are getting a lot right, and within that context we can feel strong, supported and positive.

‘Find a place inside where there’s joy, and the joy will burn out the pain’. Joseph Campbell