Pupils and staff have been participating in events and activities thought the week to recognise World Mental Health Day, which took place on 10th October. The academy’s ‘Respect Yourself’ initiative encouraged staff and pupils to think about some of the many ways they can consider and take action to support their own mental health, whilst supporting others during difficult times, too.

Themed around ‘little things….. big difference’ the school have hosted activities this week to support pupils and staff to be connected with others, to be active, be kind, be aware, be open minded, be brave and try new things.

To kick-off the programme of feel-good events, Highfield Leadership Academy’s Anti-Bullying Ambassadors prepared and presented a special whole-school assembly focussing on mental health issues and throughout the week pupils had the opportunity to take part in a variety of workshops.

The school hosted daily lunchtime and afterschool clubs, which provided pupils and staff with the opportunity to take time out connect with others, do something they enjoy or try something new. Clubs ranged from making pom-poms to singing songs, relaxation sessions and sports activities, so there really has been something for everyone.

The school also continued to deliver an on-going programme of resilience and mindfulness sessions to pupils, which are facilitated by trained staff and designed to equip pupils with the coping mechanisms they need to deal with the stresses of exams season and any issues they encounter throughout the school year.

Staff have also been benefiting from the ‘Respect Yourself’ campaign. On Tuesday, they took advantage of a drop-in session (including a slice of cake) facilitated by The Teachers’ Union (NASUWT), who provided advice and guidance on the full range of topics linked to Mental Health Awareness.

in a range of daily challenges themed around ‘The Five Ways to Wellbeing’ which are: Be Active, Connect, Take Notice, Keep Learning and Give.

Mr Johnson, Head of PE, took up the ‘Be Active’ challenge on Monday with a fast-paced run on the spot.

Mrs Benson, the school’s Safeguarding Manager, demonstrated her willingness to ‘give’ by volunteering for the school’s Silver Surfers project, which aims to combat social isolation amongst elderly people whilst helping them to improve their ICT skills. The initiative is run in conjunction with Blackpool Coastal Housing and Blackpool and Fylde College.

Staff also demonstrated their commitment to ‘keep learning’ by participating in some clubs and activities unrelated to the subject they teach. They participated in a signing club run by Mrs Molloy, which proved to be such a success, staff have since decided to meet each week to learn some Christmas songs for up and coming community events.

Staff across the school are supporting the school community to ‘be mindful’. Head of Year 11, Mr Kerr, has been running a mind, body and soul workshop helping staff and pupils to be more aware of the present moment as well as their thoughts and their feelings, whilst Mrs Haylor has held a relaxation and resilience class.

The week culminated on Friday 11th October, when all pupils and staff took a break, received a snack and watched a mental health video featuring the Dukes and Duchesses of Cambridge and Sussex. The whole school took time out to reflect on the ‘Every Mind Matters’ campaign before taking some time over the weekend to enjoy and appreciate the little things in life.

Caitlin Bowie, a Year 8 pupil at Highfield Leadership Academy, participated in several of the lunchtime and afterschool events held this week. Caitlin said: “This week we have had lots of opportunities to look after our mental health. I really enjoyed making the badges and pom-poms. I’ll also be going to a buns and braids group and some of my friends are going to do digital art. It is good to have time after school to chat with my friends when we are doing something fun.”

Mason Stanley, a Year 10 pupil at Highfield Leadership Academy and one of the school’s Anti-Bullying Ambassadors, said: “I helped to deliver a special mental health awareness assembly. I think it is important that we all know that there is someone we can turn to. Just like you can recover from a physical illness, with the right help, you can recover from a mental illness too.”

Andrew Galbraith, Principal of Highfield Leadership Academy, said: “Everybody across the school has got on board with the school’s Respect Yourself – Mental Health Awareness Week. The idea behind the week came from our Pupil Council and the events and activities have been thought of and developed by our pupils. Looking after our Mental Health is so important – not just in school life, but in all aspects of life – and we are delighted to support our pupils and staff with events and activities throughout the school year.”