Wellbeing@West is a program that all students engage in as means to look at strategies to build resilience to support when they experience difficult times. It is delivered through the Pastoral Care structure with their Tutors.
The program has been developed by ‘The Resilience Project’ and focuses on delivering programs to schools, sports clubs and businesses, providing practical, evidence-based mental health strategies to build resilience and happiness. The program focuses on three key elements; Gratitude, Empathy and Mindfulness which research suggests helps contribute to an individual’s positive mental health. In past years, we have had the founder of the Resilience Project, Hugh van Cuylenburg visit the school and present to students, staff and parents. The impact he had on all those who heard him speak was significant. Hugh also engages with high-performance groups of athletes to help them manage their mental health.
The program encourages individuals to practice the three elements on a daily basis so they become a habit. I have spoken with older students who have made the effort to practice gratitude, empathy and mindfulness on a regular basis and they have reported an improvement in how they deal with difficult times. These situations could be heavy academic workload, improving sporting performance or even managing relationships.
Apart from the Resilience Program the Pastoral Care structure also helps build a sense of belonging and support structure for students. The Heads of Year and Heads of House along with their Tutors are key people in supporting the wellbeing of students and also available when a student needs someone to talk to or help support them through a tough time. To add extra support to the senior students, our Head of Senior Students, Tony Ritson ('93) is there for our Year 11 and, particularly, for our Year 12 students. All these key people have undergone training in the Youth Mental Health First Aid course which is delivered by our Head of Wellbeing, Liz Collins.
When students need more high-level support they can visit one of our psychologists and counsellors. Often students may refer themselves but they can also be referred by their Head of Year or Head of House. Parents can also ask for their child to access these services, ideally going through their Head of Year or Head of House.
In my experience, those students who deal best with stressful situations are those who have been able to manage their time and efforts between their academic studies and their co-curricular interests and are engaged with others. They are also more proactive in seeking help from their teachers when they need a concept clarified.
I congratulate all the students for the way they have shown a degree of resilience in coping with the ongoing regulations that we have to follow.
I would encourage parents to make contact with your child’s key person when you have concerns. For more information about the Resilience Project, please visit the Resilience Project website.
Head of Senior School