World Mental Health day marks an important reminder of perhaps one of the most important conversations we could possibly have in the current climate; the state of our mental health. Naturally impacted by the nuanced pressures of today’s complex world, the facts speak for themselves; during the latter two weeks of August, 45% of the UK population experienced anxiety, one in five felt lonely, and approximately 10% of the UK population experience suicidal thoughts (according to the Mental Health Foundation’s ‘Coronavirus: Mental Health in the Pandemic’ research, wave 7) due to the pandemic.

The mental health of our young people has been declining for a while now, with the pressures of social media, of labelled body image and of socio-political requirements leading to an enormous increase in the presence of anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress within the world’s young people. The conversation, whilst occurring, still needs the efforts of us all to further explore ways in which we can help not only our young people, but ourselves, in understanding and developing holistic wellness in a world where anxiety is an almost ‘fostered’ concept.

At Taunton School International, we take the mental health of the students in our care immensely seriously and have a wide provision to best support the development of their welfare, especially in these modern times. For World Mental Health Day, however, we wanted to take things a step further, offering a couple of different opportunities for our students to explore how they might best look after their mental wellness.

On Friday, Taunton School International ran a ‘Mufty’, a non-uniform day, raising money for Young Mind’s #helloyellow scheme, a movement designed to support the mental health of young people. Students and staff from across the school were encouraged to wear an item of yellow clothing in solidarity of the movement, and to raise awareness of the necessary conversation. Everyone donated £1 which will go directly to supporting #helloyellow.

On Saturday 10th October, World Mental Health Day itself, the students partook in a number of activities designed to encourage them in exploring ways to protect their mental wellbeing. The Foxcombe House Master, Mr Bull, took the students on an optional morning run at 6.45am, giving them a moment to get some endorphins running around the system, and to give them a head start against the day. Off of the back of the positive turnout, Mr Bull has decided to run this morning session every Saturday, encouraging the students to partake in physical activity every weekend, something well known to benefit mental health.
During the morning House Meeting, Mr Wilkinson also ran a short meditation, encouraging the students to explore quiet, and take a moment of silent reflection away from distractions.

The conversation about Mental Health is, as always, on-going. It is important now more than ever that we come together to the benefit of the global mental health, and change attitudes towards individual struggles. On the Foxcombe site, we encourage our students to talk to staff or to each other if they are struggling. Our work now is to broadcast this message across the planet, to tell that no one is alone, and no one should suffer in silence.