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Mental Health and Wellbeing Summit: Copthall School X Mill Hill School

At Mill Hill School we pride ourselves on offering outstanding pastoral care and believe that pupils can only achieve their very best when their wellbeing is placed at the heart of all that we do. Mill Hill’s focus on teaching pupils how to maintain a healthy, balanced and positive lifestyle is evident throughout our curriculum and in the day to day care we provide pupils.

The importance of wellbeing and good mental health is something one of our partner schools, Copthall School, a local secondary state school for girls, also believe in. Together we created a two week long programme for pupils and staff that focused on supporting the wellbeing of staff, parents, and pupils across both Schools. Pupils received workshops, lectures and visits from experts in their fields on a wide range of topics linked to maintaining good mental health and wellbeing.  

We opened the summit with the entire school meeting with either Iain Mahoney or The Well HQ. Iain presented to each year group about the dangers of addiction. He used his own personal experiences of substance abuse and the challenges he faced on his subsequent road to recovery to teach our pupils how poor choices can easily become habitual without awareness and how to recover from adversity. One Fifth Former said: “It was a great talk … having people present their first-hand experiences really gets the message across. It was extremely heartfelt.”  

The Well HQ is an organisation which equips women with information about their bodies to help make their lives fitter, healthier and happier. The Well HQ and Dr Emma Ross delivered an insightful session named ‘Sport in her Shoes’ to Belmont Preparatory School, Mill Hill School and Copthall School pupils. They learnt how to work with their bodies, especially their menstrual cycle, and not against them to enhance performance both on the sports field and in day-to-day life. The Well HQ also delivered sessions to staff for their wellbeing and their professional development. Dr Ross taught staff how to manage during the menopause, ways to look after sports injuries, concussions, and support girls to excel in sport   

Feedback from pupils across all year groups was overwhelmingly positive. One Pupil said: “Just wow and thank you for the opportunity”. A Remove Pupil told us that “the day was a great opportunity to learn lots about how to look after our health and wellbeing and think about how to get the best out of our performances on the sports field” and an Upper Sixth Pupil summed the day nicely: “I had never really thought about these aspects of my life in such a way, it was a great presentation for us all to be involved in.”  

Our Remove pupils welcomed Poetry Slam Champion (and motivational speaker) Zohab Zee Khan and were treated to an electrifying performance of Zohab’s poetry in The Chapel. Through spoken word poetry Zohab delivered messages about making positive decisions, accepting oneself for who you are and never giving up. One pupil said that they: “really enjoyed his stories and how he kept trying to be the best at something he really loved doing.”    

The Fourth Form met with Nathan from The Self Esteem Team. Nathan spoke about his own experience as a teenager of being bullied and subsequently becoming a bully. His anecdotes highlighted how we, as humans, often pass on negative feeling to one another when our self-esteem is low. He gave advice about how to get to know yourself so you can embrace your interests and be proud of who you are. In turn, this builds your confidence and promotes better relationships so that you don’t rely on validation from others. A Fourth Form Pupil in Weymouth said, “Nathan’s talk was really interesting and helped solidify how important it is to view yourself with respect and in a healthy way.” 

Parents were also able to access a variety of online webinars utilising our subscriptions to ‘Let’s All Talk Mental Health’ (every Monday at 8pm) and Elevate (study skills sessions). We were delighted to host Abi Foster from Elent who presented a webinar on Student Loans for parents helping to navigate through the process from application to post university payment options. Abi is the founder of Elent Finacial Education, and she has created a programme of workshops and presentations to support both young people and their families at what can be a stressful time. Abi has a passion for education and a wealth of knowledge having worked in some high-profile organisations and we look forward to continuing working with her. 

The Summit also offered staff the opportunity to participate in various events to enhance their wellbeing. These included art therapy sessions, self-care seminars and professional development sessions on topics such as neurodiversity and managing mental illness in schools. We were thrilled to welcome our keynote speakers Natasha Devon and Pooky Knightsmith. Natasha spoke about the various issues facing our young people today and how we, as educators, can support them through these challenges. Dr Knightsmith gave an inspiring talk about how to foster a sense of belonging in the school community and make sure every pupil feels “heard, held and healed” and proud to belong. We cannot wait to invite her back to hear more about improving attendance and participation.  

We hope our Mental Health and Wellbeing Summit: Copthall School X Mill Hill School will equip pupils and staff with essential information and techniques to look after their wellbeing now and in the future.  

Mental Health Foundation First Aid Course

Alongside the summit, 55 Mill Hill Lower Sixth pupils completed the Mental Health Foundation First Aid (MHFA) course. To date this is the largest cohort to undertake the training for the Internationally recognised course and we are proud to have so many of our young people investing in ways to support themselves and one another.  

The Mental Health First Aid course was developed to empower people to spot signs of mental ill health and offer first aid support. By improving mental health skills, confidence and access to support, the training assists in reducing stigma, increasing wellbeing, and encouraging people to thrive. The pupils are now looking at several initiatives that they can deliver school wide to support our entire community.   

We would like to offer the MHFA youth course to any parents who might be interested – these are to be run over 4 Saturday morning sessions during the summer term. If you would like further information, please complete this form or, if you have further questions, email Mrs Charlotte Dickin cejd@millhill.org.uk 

The Lower Sixth pupils have also seen this as an opportunity to launch a new group called ‘Look Up’ led by Juliette M (Winfield House) and Rosie P (Cedars House) with a focus on mental health. As a school, we see the immense value of such courses and pupil led initiatives, supporting the breakdown of stigma, developing the language around mental health and an opportunity for us all to reflect on our own mental health and wellbeing.  We look forward to all that this group of pupils will be able to achieve over the coming years and the role modelling and inspiration they will be to others. 

Mrs Dickin, Head of PSHE and Ms Boyle Assistant Head (Pupil Development and Wellbeing)