Since the start of this year, we’ve had the opportunity to attend a couple of the largest education exhibitions in the UK. After exhibiting at Bett in London in January – a huge show with over 34,000 visitors – we had chance to take in the Education Show in Birmingham this week (16-18 March).

Being relatively new to the education sector, we were keen to find out what other tools and services are available to help learning institutions manage mental health concerns and build wellbeing among staff and students.  We came away feeling excited about the potential for At My Best but surprised and disappointed that there appear to be so few organisations offering support in this space.

Wellbeing is a major concern

The wellbeing of young people has been getting a lot of media attention in the UK, and elsewhere, recently. There are regular concerns raised about depression, anxiety and suicide, and the government has pledged to put greater emphasis on mental health provision. So this isn’t (or certainly shouldn’t be) a fringe issue.

We’ve spoken to a lot of teachers who are worried about the increasing problems they’re encountering around the psychological wellbeing of students, with some saying that they’ve noticed a sharp rise in difficulties over the last 2 to 3 years.  Perhaps surprisingly, many educators have also told us that there are too few practical resources in this space.

At My Best proves popular

While the lack of available tools helps At My Best stand out, it does indicate that more needs to be done.  There’s no shortage of academic resources for teachers to draw on, but that’s clearly not the case for wellbeing resources.

We were thrilled to get such a positive response to our strengths tools at Bett.  Several visitors told us that At My Best was ‘the best thing’ they’d seen at the show (there were over 900 exhibitors, so we’re pretty pleased with that!) and many more were excited by the potential for our cards and digital tools to add something valuable to the work they’re doing.

Making some new friends

As well as getting encouraging feedback, we were fortunate to connect with some great people who are doing some fantastic work around wellbeing in schools.  Here are few worth taking a look at:

Young Happy Minds – Through a selection of workshops and programmes for students, teachers and parents, Young Happy Minds help build confidence, self-esteem and resilience by applying the science of wellbeing and positive psychology.

Human Utopia – Offering a range of inspirational and motivational programmes for staff and students, aimed at building hope, confidence, happiness, relationships and employability.

Zumos – A platform for students to anonymously access expert written content on a range of topics such as self-harm, confidence and eating disorders.

EduKit – A social enterprise created to share free and low cost programmes for children aged 5-19.  They also have a wellbeing survey that can be used with students.

MindEd – A government funded e-learning platform containing over 300 free modules to help staff, volunteers and parents better support young people with mental health issues.

IPEN – Our friends at the International Positive Education Network are about to launch their new website, which will include a library of practical resources to help build wellbeing and character. This will be a great resource for the months and years to come.

Equipping children for the test of life, not a life of tests

Of course it is much better to take a preventative approach, helping young people to develop the self-awareness, confidence and skillset that will help them thrive, rather than trying to effectively manage the consequences once their wellbeing has deteriorated.

To do that effectively we need to help teachers to thrive too. Unfortunately, that’s something that we saw even less of at the shows we attended. Hopefully we’ll see a shift in the years to come.

 

Win At My Best digital tools for your school!

We’re giving three schools the opportunity to use our online strengths tools FREE for a whole year. The prize includes use of the 360 feedback for staff and self-reflection for students.

To enter just send us an email, before the end of March 2017, with details of your school and why you’d like to win.