On Thursday 28 April we were delighted to host an online seminar on the topic of child wellbeing and our pupils’ mental health.
The online seminar took the form of a panel discussion. I am a great supporter of this format as it involves so many more talented people and is far more likely to bring a key insight to members of our audience from the breadth of the members of the panel.
For this online seminar I was joined by Fred Zhang, one of our Chinese Language teachers, Jasmine Vincent, a Year 2 class teacher and Matthew Haslam, one of our Year 6 class teachers.
We started off by describing for the audience what we mean by a child’s wellbeing and what the relationship is between a child’s academic success and their mental health.
We then moved on and looked at a few points that have become very pertinent from lockdowns in Hong Kong. We looked at what the emotional and wellbeing impact has been on children who have spent considerable periods of time away from school and normal social interaction, as they have spent so long confined in their own homes, often without adequate facilities for regular or prolonged exercise in their average day.
We were also able to give parents some pointers, signs, to look out for that may suggest incidents of mental health impact for children, as opposed to normal levels of moodiness and withdrawal which are a part of any child’s behaviour.
Year 2 class teacher
Moving on, we considered child wellbeing and mental health in a normal school situation, without the impact of Covid. We described how a school like ours teaches holistically, meaning we look after the development of the whole child. We described the extraordinarily complex and active systems of monitoring and communication that our school has for keeping track of each child’s wellbeing and mental health.
Parents were pleasantly surprised to learn how proactively schools such as our monitor, continuously consult and keep detailed records of pupil mental wellbeing issues. Again, we came back to how parents can monitor their child’s mental and emotional wellbeing and how important collaboration with the school is in this regard.
Year 6 class teacher
One of the recurrent themes in any discussion on child wellbeing is the role and impact of technology and social media. I am aware that we could devote an entire online seminar to this topic. We referred to the impact of social media at several points.
The recurring theme was how children who have access to phones and tablets throughout the day and at night never get a break from social interaction with their peers, which can lead to social and emotional exhaustion, which in turn, negatively impacts wellbeing and mental health.
We also discussed how critical it is to support and ensure a child’s mental and emotional wellbeing during the primary phase, to support children in their wellbeing during the more turbulent teenage years.
Chinese Language teacher
We completed the online seminar by taking some questions from the audience via our chat room. Like all such webinars, we soon ran out of time. Hopefully, we will be able to offer another event in order to continue this important discussion at another time.