The UK’s education community has faced new and tragic challenges during the coronavirus lockdown, not least keeping schools open for vulnerable children and children of key workers, delivering food parcels to desperate families whilst also scrambling to deliver online learning to pupils at home.
As we emerge from the pandemic into the new normal, we must also recognise that the emotional and psychological toll on school staff, pupils and families may take years to fully understand. For starters, issues will include:
The fall-out from complete reductions in social contact and movement. Many teachers and young people we have spoken to have expressed anxiety about re-entering the busy, time-pressured, crowded working week of school. Multiple interactions, whilst invigorating, may for some also cause sensory overload, leading potentially to both emotional and physical fatigue.
Trauma. Many have experienced trauma through working with, or witnessing, harmful incidents on a personal or much broader scale: illness; death; domestic abuse; poverty; the breakdown of relationships. Together with a very real fear about the future, heightened by catastrophic scenarios played out in the media, our schools will be dealing with the impact of short and long term trauma on the whole school community.
Uncertainty. There is no end in sight to uncertainty about the future. Will there be jobs and income? Who will get ill? Will teacher workloads increase? What will the world look like next month, next year, next decade? We must expect that levels of anxiety and worry will rise for both staff and pupils.
Wellbeing and mental health can no longer seen as a ‘nice to have’ but a ‘must have’.
It has never been so important to provide wellbeing programmes for both staff and students. It is this that will provide the scaffolding upon which everything else rests.
At Mindfulness in Schools Project, we deliver information and training to build wellbeing and resilience in schools. At its most basic level, mindfulness helps train your attention to be more aware of what is actually happening, rather than worrying about what has happened or might happen, providing techniques to ground yourself when things begin to spiral out of control.
We start with the school staff, teaching them how to recognise their own experiences and practice self-care. They can then role model this in their school community before training to teach mindfulness to their children and young people. There is a large body of scientific evidence examining the benefits of training the mind through mindfulness.
Such benefits include:
“Mindfulness taught me different ways to view situations I’m in and learn how to cope with them like responding and not reacting.”
“Mindfulness helped me cope with my biggest difficulties: stress, worrying and thinking negatively.”
Find out more about their work on their website, where you can learn more about their primary, secondary and transition curricula, personal adult mindfulness courses and free information sessions.
As an education professional, you need to make sure you are protected against the unexpected in your school with adequate insurance.
Our teachers and tutors policies can be tailored to your needs, including professional indemnity (PI), civil liability and public liability cover.
Jo Taylor is an respected insurance industry leader with over 15 years’ experience working with both education and the public sector. She is responsible for supporting her clients on all things insurance and risk related, and is also a mental health first aider qualified through Mental Health First Aid England.
Date: May 28, 2020
Category: Care and Medical