Mental Health Matters @ MTS

With exam season upon us, here at Merchant Taylors' School, mental health and wellbeing is at the forefront of our minds.

Studies have suggested that 20% of school-aged pupils experience some form of mental health difficulties, meaning it is vitally important to raise awareness of mental health, and to support pupils in recognising and treating mental health difficulties, through education, detection and support. As a centre of holistic education, we aim to empower our boys with tools to ensure that they can prioritise and nurture their own wellbeing, both whilst they are with us, and beyond.

As a school, our educational provision is likely what you picture when you consider mental health here at MTS. Our timetabled PSHE curriculum develops mental health literacy across the student body, teaching pupils in every year group how to manage their mental health and recognise difficulties. Assemblies and tutor activities further expand mental health awareness and reduce stigma. Our unusual vertical tutoring system is also tantamount to our recognised pastoral success here, as younger boys socialise daily with older role models.

However, our provision does not stop here. The infrastructure of our house tutor system means that there are always at least two members of staff who know each pupil really well. They are often the first people to notice signs of mental fatigue, such as reduced attendance, a drop in grades or withdrawal from activities, which can indicate a pupil is struggling with mental health. This week also sees the launch of our MTS Student Voice app: The app encourages pupils to report concerns and engages them in taking an active role in their own wellbeing and that of their community. We are very excited to empower our school community in this way!

The school also operates a free counselling service, and pupils can email to arrange an appointment. If pupils are having difficulty with areas such as self-confidence, communication or motivation, they can also receive a dedicated Coaching Programme with trained staff, which is accessed by speaking to their Head of Section. As an SCR, seventeen members of our staff are also qualified Mental Health First Aiders, including all Heads of Section and Heads of House. These individuals are trained to spot the signs of poor mental health, and are able offer early intervention and support.

This Mental Health Awareness Week  has seen an extra surge of awareness around issues of mental health, and this year, there has been a specific emphasis upon the power of movement. Boys have been involved in a real mixture of events, including House Mindfulness walks, the MTS Mile Run (for staff and students alike), and perhaps most creatively, a House cha-cha-slide session!

Ultimately, here at MTS, we want a school community where everyone can thrive with zero stigma around mental health, and where parents, staff and pupils feel able to openly discuss and support mental health. Adolescence is a challenging time for teenagers and parents, but at Taylors', our strength really does lie in our community and the support we give each other.

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