Headucation Schools

How Schools can Tackle Student Issues With Social Media

Social media plays a massive role in the lives of children and teens, and it is important that schools are well equipped to tackle issues relating to social media.  

Improper social media usage can negatively impact children and teen mental health. Research shows, young adults who use social media are 3 times more likely to suffer from depression.  

As part of our Headucation mission, we want to give schools the skills and knowledge they need to tackle social media issues and improve the mental health of young people.  


This post will be discussing: 

  • Social media and cyberbullying 
  • Social media and productivity 
  • Privacy and safety concerns 
  • School social media policies  
  • Social media educational assemblies  
  • Policies for addressing improper social media usage 

The impact of social media on student’s well-being and academic performance 

Cyberbullying and its effects on students 

With the rise in popularity of social media, schools have seen an increase in cyberbullying cases between students. Reports show that 1 in 4 children between the ages of 10-15 have experienced at least one form of cyberbullying in the UK.  

The impact of cyberbullying can be wide-ranging, and can impact various aspects of a young person’s life.  Compared to traditional forms of bullying, cyberbullying can often feel inescapable, as it can follow them home rather than being left on the playground. This can lead to further feelings of anxiety and depression.  

Some of the impacts of cyberbullying include: 

  • Depression 
  • Academic decline 
  • Social isolation 
  • Self-harm 
  • Eating disorders 
  • Suicide  
  • Anxiety  
  • Poor attendance  
  • Lack of sleep 


Distraction and decreased productivity 

Social media platforms have become an integral part of the lives of students, but they can also serve as significant distractions and hinder productivity in schools.  

Social media platforms are designed to be addictive and can easily consume a significant amount of time. Students may find themselves spending excessive amounts of time scrolling through their social media feeds, leading to a loss of focus and reduced time available for studying or completing assignments. 

Constant notifications and the fear of missing out can significantly impact a student’s ability to concentrate on their studies. The need to frequently check social media updates interrupts the flow of their work and reduces their ability to engage in deep, focused learning. Even brief interruptions can have a negative impact on concentration and productivity. 

Social media often presents a carefully curated version of people’s lives, filled with achievements, vacations, and positive experiences. Constant exposure to such “perfect” content can lead students to compare themselves unfavourably, leading to lower self-esteem and reduced motivation to focus on their own academic goals. This can further contribute to a decrease in productivity and academic performance. 

Privacy and safety concerns 

While social media platforms can offer valuable opportunities for communication and collaboration, they also present certain risks that need to be addressed.  

Sharing personal details can expose them to potential risks. It is crucial for students to understand the importance of safeguarding their privacy online and being mindful of the information they share. 

Students often underestimate the long-term impact of their online presence. The content they post or engage with on social media can create a digital footprint that may have consequences for their future. Inappropriate or damaging content can affect college applications, employment opportunities, or personal relationships and make them more vulnerable to online bullying. 

Students, especially teenagers, may be entering the phase of their lives where they are exploring romantic and sexual relationships. They should be educated on understanding the signs of grooming, the dangers of speaking to strangers online and sending inappropriate images of themselves, even if it is an expiring photo on snapchat.  


How can schools promote responsible social media use? 

Develop comprehensive social media policies 

Schools should develop comprehensive social media policies to ensure responsible and safe use of social media platforms by students. These policies should outline clear guidelines and expectations for students regarding their online behaviour and interactions. Students and parents should be encouraged to read the policy upon enrolment.  

The policy should include guidelines for appropriate content sharing, rules against cyberbullying and harassment, instructions for protecting personal privacy, and consequences for violating the policy.  

Given the fast-paced nature of social media, policies should be regularly reviewed and updated to ensure they are relevant and tackle current issues. Establishing comprehensive social media policies, schools can create a positive digital culture that keeps students safe. 

Consider the following when developing social media policies in school: 

  • Prohibition of cyberbullying, harassment, and any form of harmful or offensive online behaviour. 
  • Clear guidelines on appropriate content sharing 
  • Emphasising respect for others’ privacy, and obtaining consent before posting pictures. 
  • Guidelines for maintaining a positive and inclusive online environment, promoting respectful and constructive communication. 
  • Consequences for violating the social media policy. 
  • Encouragement of responsible digital citizenship. 
  • Guidelines for reporting and addressing instances of cyberbullying. 
  • Prohibition of sharing explicit, violent, or otherwise inappropriate content. 
  • Promoting self-care and responsible use of social media. 
  • Collaboration with parents and guardians to reinforce the importance of responsible social media use. 
  • Avoiding sharing the school they attend on social media. 


Conduct regular social media education assemblies and classes  

Schools should conduct regular social media education assemblies and classes to promote online safety and safe behaviour among students. These assemblies can feature guest speakers, presentations, and interactive discussions to address various topics surrounding social media. This includes, digital citizenship, cyberbullying, privacy settings, and the potential consequences of inappropriate online actions.  

It can also be difficult for parents to support schools in their efforts to tackle issues with social media if they don’t have the necessary knowledge. Schools should involve parents in social media education efforts.  

Hosting parent assemblies can help them understand the potential risks associated with social media use and provide guidance on promoting online safety at home. Schools should also keep in regular contact with parents, email resources and keep them up to date with any social media trends which can be dangerous.   


Topics to discuss in these assemblies with students and parents include: 

  • Importance of online privacy. 
  • Signs to recognise cyberbullying. 
  • Appropriate content sharing 
  • Impact of online actions on digital footprint. 
  • Identifying online scams. 
  • Identifying fake accounts 
  • Evaluating online information for accuracy and reliability. 
  • Developing critical thinking skills to navigate social media. 
  • Strategies for managing screen time. 
  • Building positive online relationships. 
  • Online etiquette and respectful communication. 
  • Promoting empathy and understanding in online interactions 
  • Encouraging reporting mechanisms for inappropriate online behaviour. 

Policies for reporting and addressing inappropriate content promptly 

Schools should have a policy in place for students to confide in teachers and staff members about if they are experiencing cyberbullying or dealing with any social media issues, whether that be procrastination, addiction to social media or they have seen something upsetting.  

Policies should also extend to parents who want to address any concerns or need support with monitoring and keeping up to date with social media.  


Shawmind has a mission to improve teen’s and children’s mental health across the nation. We want to provide early intervention to prevent a further mental health crisis. If you want to support Headucation, please donate or choose to do one of our mental health courses. Alternatively, you can book Headucation for your school.  


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The Impact of Technology on Children’s Mental Health: How to Limit Screen Time

As our society becomes more reliant on technology, it is important that carers and parents control the amount of time children and young people spend using screens. 

Recent studies have shown: 

  • 30% of children and teens who used the internet for over 3 hours a day were diagnosed with depression. 
  • Excess screen time inhibits young children’s ability to read faces and learn social skills, two key factors needed to develop empathy. 
  • Children with more than one hour of daily screen time were more likely to be vulnerable in all five developmental health domains: physical health and wellbeing, confidence, social competence, emotional maturity, language and cognitive development and communication skills compared to children reporting up to one hour of screen time/day.   

It is important that children’s time spent using technology is limited, and it is the responsibility of parents and carers to reinforce rules. This is to ensure that young people’s mental health is cared for to prevent mental illness and mental health problems following them from childhood to adulthood. 

Shawmind aims to support the mental health of children from an early age to equip them with the skills they need to build resilience and look after their own and others’ mental health. If you want to know more about supporting children’s mental health, read on.  

Understanding the Impact of Technology on Children’s Mental Health 

What are the positive aspects of technology for children? 

Before we address the negative aspects of technology on children and teens mental health, it is important to understand some of the positive impacts of technology and how it can be used as a tool for good. 

Technology can be used as a learning tool. With endless resources and information, any topic to want to learn about can be studied using the internet. 

Platforms such as YouTube offer various tools to encourage children to explore their creative side, including art, composing music, and designing video games. 

Also, due to the globalisation of the internet, technology allows children to foster a global awareness and cultural understanding. They can engage in virtual tours, explore other cultures and connect with people across the world.  

Finally, it is important to understand that technology is here to stay. Although many aspects of a technology-reliant future seem scary, future careers will require candidates to be proficient in today’s emerging technologies. 

What are the negative impacts of technology on children? 

Sedentary lifestyle 

Excessive screen time can lead to reduced physical activity which increases the risk of obesity and other disorders. Excessive screen time as opposed to playing outdoors, socialising with friends and partaking in activities can also hinder cognitive development.  

Sleep disturbances and fatigue 

The blue light emitted by screens and the engaging nature of technology can disrupt children’s sleep patterns, leading to difficulty falling asleep and fatigue during the day. This can impact their overall well-being and cognitive functioning. 

Impaired social skills and relationships 

Spending excessive time on screens can hinder the development of social skills, such as face-to-face communication, empathy, and emotional intelligence. It may lead to difficulties in forming and maintaining meaningful relationships with family and friends. This can negatively impact a child’s mental health.  

Unrealistic expectations 

Content on social media is specifically curated to appeal to our senses, promote an ideal lifestyle and develop insecurities to sell products. This can impact the way children and teens see their life and their bodies. Constant exposure to “perfect” content can cause self-esteem issues, which can lead to eating disorders and poor mental health. 

Reduced attention span and cognitive abilities  

Constant exposure to fast-paced digital content can decrease children’s attention span and make it challenging for them to concentrate and focus on tasks that require sustained attention. This can impact their academic studies and their ability to find enjoyment in non-technology based activities.  

Risk of online dangers and cyberbullying 

Excessive technology and social media usage increases the exposure to online dangers. This includes inappropriate adult content, cyberbullying, and online predators. Children may become victims of harassment or engage in risky social media without proper guidance. 

Impaired academic performance 

Excessive technology usage can negatively impact academic performance as it can distract children and teens during study time.  

Dependency and addiction 

Excessive use of technology can lead to dependency and addiction-like behaviours, where children feel a compulsive need to be constantly connected to screens. This can result in withdrawal symptoms when technology use is restricted and difficulty in self-regulating screen time. 

Vision problems 

Staring at a screen for too long can negatively impact the health of our eyes, especially during the developmental stages of children and young people. Children are at risk of developing digital eye strain and short sightedness with excessive screen time.  

The Role of Parents and Caregivers in Monitoring Children’s Technology Usage 

Setting healthy boundaries for screen time 

As a parent or guardian, it is important to set healthy boundaries with technology. We encourage you to establish these boundaries as early as possible in your child’s life to get them accustomed to the healthy boundaries. However, it’s never too late! 

  • Establish age-appropriate guidelines for screen time limits. 
  • Create a technology use plan with specific rules and routines. 
  • Enforce the guidelines consistently. 
  • Encourage alternative activities beyond screens. 
  • Provide access to books, art supplies, and outdoor spaces. 
  • Be present and actively engage in quality family interactions. 
  • Regularly reassess boundaries as children grow. 
  • Maintain open communication. 

Encouraging alternative activities and hobbies 

Children get bored, so rather than waiting for them to reach out for that iPad, consider encouraging these alternative activities to technology usage. 

  • Engage in outdoor play. 
  • Encourage reading books 
  • Foster imaginative play. 
  • Encourage arts and crafts. 
  • Promote board games and puzzles for cognitive stimulation. 
  • Encourage participation in sports. 
  • Support musical activities. 
  • Engage in nature exploration and gardening. 

Leading by example 

Children model the behaviour of their parents or adults in their lives. It is also important for adults to limit their screen time, especially in front of children and teens. Show them how to have fun without technology! 

How much screen time is considered appropriate for children? 

It is important to follow expert guidelines when setting screen time limits for your child.  

  • Under 2 years old: Children under 2 should have zero screen time, except for limited video phone calls with family or friends. This is the perfect opportunity to foster interests and hobbies with your child without technology. 
  • 2-5 years old: No more than one hour per day accompanied by a parent, carer or sibling. 
  • 5-17 years old: No more than two hours per day. This doesn’t include homework.  

Are certain types of screen activities more detrimental than others? 

As mentioned earlier, technology can often be a force for good. Educational content that is age appropriate can be beneficial to cognitive development in moderation, such as YouTube educational content and education TV shows. However, some screen activities like social media can be dangerous, and should be limited.  

Parents should always monitor the amount of time children are spending on technology no matter the content being consumed. 


Shawmind has a mission to improve children and teen’s mental health across the nation. We want to provide early intervention to prevent a further mental health crisis. Do you want to support Headucation in schools? Please donate or choose to do one of our mental health courses. Alternatively, you can book Headucation for your school.  

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10 Ways to Support a Young Carer in Your School This Carers Week

Shawmind is on a mission to raise the levels of mental health awareness and understanding in schools. This Carers Week, we want to raise awareness and highlight the challenges young carers may experience, and how schools can offer effective support. 

Reports estimate that there are around 800,000 young carers in the UK. We want to help schools provide effective support for the mental health, wellbeing and education of children and especially young carers across the UK. 

If you want to support the mental health of young carers in your school, find out more about Headucation. 

Identifying young carers in the school  

Before implementing practices to support young carers in your school, it’s important to identify who they are. Your school should have a system in place to identify who the young carers are so they can be offered the proper support they need.  

Some signs someone may have caring responsibilities to look out for include:  

  • Regular lateness 
  • Change in hygiene/appearance  
  • Change in behaviour – becoming aggressive or angry, withdrawn or quieter 
  • Tiredness 
  • Low attention span  
  • Lack of motivation 
  • Low attendance  
  • Not completing homework 
  • Feelings of anxiety 
  • Parent/guardian uses disabled parking space  
  • Lack of parent/guardian attendance to parents evening/other school events  
  • On pupil premium/free school meals  
  • Low mood/mental ill-health  

If teachers or staff notice the above signs, it is an indication that the child needs to have a meeting with the young person to get to the bottom of the issue.  

Building awareness and understanding 

Supporting young carers starts by building awareness and understanding of their circumstances. It is important to highlight what a young carer is, what their responsibilities are and how this may have an impact on their education and mental health.  

This way, staff and teachers are fully equipped with the knowledge of what a young carer is so they can provide the necessary support. Students should also be aware of what a young carer is so they can provide support to their peers. 

Providing emotional support 

Being a young carer can be an emotionally difficult and isolating experience. Many young people across the country are juggling being a carer with their social lives and educational responsibilities. This can have a significant impact on their mental health, and it is important to consider their wellbeing from a holistic lens.  

Schools should implement support and counselling services like Headucation, or groups for the young carers in their school. They should have at least one trusted, dedicated staff member who they can confide in and express themselves to.  

It is also worth setting up a club for the young carers in the school to meet up regularly, so they can find solace in individuals who are experiencing the same struggles as them and avoid being lonely. This is important for them, as many young carers often neglect their social lives, which can impact their mental health. Also, they can support each other emotionally and develop meaningful friendships, develop resilience and learn new skills.  

Academic support and flexible learning 

Young carers may often neglect their education due to their carer responsibilities. If teachers notice a decline or plateau in academic performance, it is important to provide academic support to help them through their challenges. This could include:  

  • Flexible deadlines and homework extensions 
  • Individualised learning plans 
  • Regular communication and check-ins 
  • Additional academic support and resources 
  • Homework clubs and study groups 
  • Academic mentoring 
  • Time management skills 
  • In-class support and accommodations 
  • Liaising with support services 
  • Celebrating achievements 

This can significantly help a young carer with their academic responsibilities. It is also important to have regular check-ins to keep up-to-date with their lives and tailor the support accordingly.  

Collaboration with carer support organisations 

It is important to recognise when your institution needs professional advice and guidance when it comes to supporting your carers. There are many organisations and charities that can support you and provide advice so you can take the right steps when providing a young carer with support.  

You could speak to your local council to find any local carer support organisations, and remain in consistent contact so they can keep up to date with your school, and you can keep your school’s wellbeing policy up to date.  

Providing respite and relaxation opportunities 

It is important to highlight the challenges young carers face and recognise their struggles. Where most young people finish school and go home to a place of relaxation, young carers may have a long list of duties that are waiting for them when they come home. Being constantly mentally and physically active can impact their mental wellbeing, leading to fatigue and exhaustion, compounded by the demands made of them emotionally by the adults in their care.  

It is important for schools to support the mental health and wellbeing of young carers, and provide the opportunity for respite and relaxation if they feel they are physically or mentally exhausted. Teachers should be trained to recognise signs of exhaustion and offer relaxation opportunities and mental health days.  

Young carers who need a break could be taken out of non-compulsory classes or provided with time to relax with a book in the library or take a peaceful walk on the playground with the supervision of a staff member. This can help them unwind and recuperate in time for their more important lessons.  

Young carers should also be taught how to practise self-care, prioritise their wellbeing and stress management techniques such as mindfulness practices, so that they can use it when they are at home. This ensures that they are looking after themselves and building resilience.  

Engaging with parents and guardians 

Schools should be in regular contact with the parents or guardians of young carers, and understand any home circumstances that could impact them, or raise a safeguarding concern if warranted. Regular contact allows for schools to tailor the support and care they offer each young carer to ensure they are making their lives as easy as possible.  

Schools should also regularly update parents or guardians on the support they are providing, and offer any resources or information to parents that can support the young carer.  

Addressing attendance and punctuality issues 

Young carers can often have a hard time being punctual or attending school. This can be due to their carer responsibilities overtaking their time, or their exhaustion from an irregular sleep schedule due to nights of caring. 

Schools should implement strategies to address attendance and punctuality challenges some young carers may have. They should also do welfare checks on any absences to ensure the child is okay, and offer any support, or raise a safeguarding concern if appropriate. If a child is absent frequently, entice them to come to school by offering relaxed learning techniques, as they may not realise they need a break from being at home.  

Evaluation and continuous improvement 

Schools should regularly reflect on the effectiveness of their support strategies and implement any necessary changes or alterations if aspects of the strategies aren’t working as effectively as they should. 

Collecting feedback from young carers within the school will allow schools to adapt accordingly and implement necessary changes, ultimately supporting the wellbeing and educational needs of the young carers.  

Celebrating and recognising young carers 

This carers week, celebrate and recognise the achievements, resilience and challenges young carers face. It is important to recognise their contributions and selflessness as they care for their families and communities.  

Recognition of the contributions they make can uplift their spirits, boost their self-esteem and make them feel valued by their community.  


Shawmind has a mission to improve children and teen’s mental health across the nation. We provide early intervention to prevent a further mental health crisis in the next generation. If you want to support Headucation, please donate or choose to do one of our mental health courses. Alternatively, you can book Headucation for your school.  

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Why mental health education in schools is so important

According to the Prince’s Trust’s Youth Index, one-quarter of young people are unable to cope with life. Report after report reveals the mental health toll exacerbated by lockdown conditions. Research has found that the first national lockdown harmed children’s mental health. If there was a mental health crisis among young people prior to the pandemic, it can only get worse now. As a result, it is critical that children receive the best possible support.  

Schools play an important role in providing assistance to children and adolescents with their mental health. We believe teachers play a crucial role in supporting children and young people’s mental health, which is why we run our Headucation programme. Headucation aims to improve the mental health of the next generation by addressing mental health in schools through a whole-school approach.   

Find out more about our headucation programme here. 


Why should children learn about mental health? 

1. The importance of early intervention 

Small changes in thinking and behaviour are frequently noticed by family, friends, teachers, and individuals themselves before a mental illness manifests itself fully. Learning about early warning signs and acting on them can be beneficial. 

Teaching and talking to children about mental health in an age appropriate manner, can lessen the severity of the illness and may even prevent or postpone the development of a major mental illness. Apathy, feelings of disconnection, nervousness, unusual behaviour, withdrawal, mood changes, and a drop in performance are some of the symptoms. 


2. Mental Health Is Equally Important as Physical Health 

We typically associate the term “health” with physical health. Physical health is extremely important in our children’s lives, and physical education has been a vital part of the curriculum for a long time. We must, however, consider our children’s mental health on the same level. We want them to live a happy and healthy life, so we must teach them to understand how mental and physical health interact. 

To live a happy life while coping with everyday stresses, we need to know how to handle our mental health. We can learn this while we are in school. Knowing the role mental health plays in their lives allows children to become happy adults. Happy, functional adults are better equipped to handle life. 


3. Students’ Mental Health Impacts Learning and Achievement 

Few children are aware that poor mental health can have an impact on learning and achievement. Children and adolescents who have mental health issues may struggle to learn. They may also struggle to complete tasks and concentrate. These children are also more likely to have poor academic performance and to miss school. 

Children and teens who have mental health issues are less likely to graduate. They also have a harder time attending and completing postsecondary education. 


4. Societal Pressures from Social Media 

When children begin using social media, they must understand mental wellbeing. Social media is extremely important in today’s world, particularly in the lives of young people. Children and teenagers can learn unhealthy ways to talk, behave, socialise, and interact on social media. 

Children’s mental health may suffer as they become more reliant on social media. Children who use social media extensively are more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety. If children learn about mental health in school, they will be able to make better social media decisions, lowering their chances of developing these conditions. 


Our children’s mental health is in crisis, and we need your help: 

We want to raise £20,000 before the end of 2022 to ensure we can support AT LEAST 3000 school children with their mental health and emotional well-being throughout 2023. 

Your donations will help us achieve this goal and change young people’s lives forever. >> 

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What are mental health days and when should you take one?

Taking time off work to care for your physical health is a standard practise but doing the same for your mental health can feel like more of a grey area.

Even though many employers have rules on personal or mental health days, it can feel challenging to request time off when all you need is a mental break. You may end up forcing yourself to go even though you’re uncomfortable or feel bad about using one of your few leave days. However, when you’re overly worried, stressed or anxious, both you and your job suffer, sometimes resulting in problems that might harm both your performance and your co-workers. Maintaining your general health and well-being, both within and outside of the office, requires knowing when to take a mental health day for yourself.

When to take a mental health day

It might be all too simple to convince yourself that experiencing mental health issues doesn’t warrant time off from work. Why stay off work if you are physically capable of doing so and being paid?

But keep in mind that your entire wellbeing depends just as much on your mental health as it does on your physical health. Your mind needs time to relax and heal, just like any illness or physical suffering does.

Consider taking the day off if you wake up feeling particularly agitated, depressed, or nervous to the point that it interferes with your ability to operate. Of course, sometimes you just feel unexplainably “off.” It’s OK to take the day to yourself then, too. Use your personal judgement and listen to your mind and body. Everyone needs a mental health day from time to time.

How to tell your manager you want a mental health day

For many people, their job openly accepts mental health days and, in this case, you can be open and honest with your manager. Unfortunately, the debate over mental health days is still prevalent in many companies. Meaning, what you say to your boss is important. Here are some points to consider when talking to your manager about taking a mental health day.

1. Acknowledge that you deserve the day. This will make it easier to communicate your needs to your supervisor and make your intentions clear. There is power in naming your stressors, and you’ll have a concrete idea of what you need to address during your time off.

2. Consider your workplace leave policies. Depending on your workplace, asking for a mental health day can be as simple as requesting a sick day. Familiarise yourself with your rights prior to requesting a mental health day.

3. Share only what you’re comfortable with. If your workplace isn’t as receptive to employees taking time off for mental health, don’t feel the need to over-explain yourself. Simply saying you have to deal with a personal matter should do the trick. However, if you’re comfortable telling your supervisor or HR (Human Resources) department why you’re taking the day off, you can! It helps to plan what you would like to say to your supervisor beforehand, so you are clear about what you are asking. After your request is approved, you can start to think about what you want to accomplish or take care of on your day off. Here’s an example of how to tell your employer you need a mental health day.

Hi [Employer],
I need to take today off for my mental health. Hopefully, then I can be back at 100% for tomorrow
Many Thanks,
[Your Name]


4. Remember that your day is for you. Once your request is approved, you can focus on what you need to decompress and take care of yourself. If you need to sit on the couch all day, do it! Getting outside is also a great option if the weather allows but remember that the day is specifically for you to recoup from the stressors of work.

How to spend your mental health day

Just like you’d treat any sick day, do things that make you feel better. Spend your mental health day doing things you know are beneficial to your mental and physical health. If spending the day relaxing on the sofa or going for a walk in the park will help you, do them! But often spending the day doing tasks like laundry, dishes and errands can help clear your mind and reduce the mental load. There is no right or wrong way to spend your mental health day, do what you need to do to feel better.

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4 ways to implement mindfulness in the classroom

Incorporate mindfulness into classroom activities by including breathing, sensory experience, guided imagery, and movement exercises into the day-to-day curriculum.

Teaching mindfulness in the classroom is more important than ever. 66% of school-age children are currently experiencing stress and worry about school, exams and homework and teachers and parents are equally concerned and anxious for them. Our lives are hectic, and we frequently find ourselves dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. Mindfulness is important for children because it teaches them to live in the present moment, to enjoy and experience what is in front of them rather than dwelling on the past or worrying for the future.

Educators understand that children learn best when they are at ease, safe, and calm. Imagine if, in addition to the gift of lifelong learning and the tools to become compassionate and productive adults, we could also offer our children the gift of mindfulness – the ability to use their breath and mind to live a happy and healthy life. Teachers will benefit from mindfulness as well, because we all know that a happy teacher has a happy classroom.

Here are 4 ways to implement mindfulness in your classroom:

1. Mindfulness Through Breath

We commonly take short breaths into our chests when we are upset or anxious. You may utilise your breath to soothe both your body and mind by inhaling deeply into your abdomen. Place your right hand on your abdomen and your left hand on your chest to practise mindful breathing. Feel the smooth rise and fall of your breath. Count to three as you inhale, then three more times as you exhale. If it’s more comfortable for you, close your eyes. Try mindful breathing on your own first, then with your students. They can pretend to fill a balloon in their stomachs, or you can use a Hoberman Sphere to show the breath visually.

You may use this easy breathing technique throughout the school day to aid with transitions, before tests, or in stressful circumstances.

2. Mindfulness Through Sensory Experiences

Sensory experiences also assist youngsters in focusing and relaxing. In the classroom, try listening to soothing music or other peaceful noises. You might also take the kids outside to listen to the sounds of nature. They may make mind jars or play I Spy. This exercise entails placing objects with strong, recognisable odours (such as cinnamon, flowers, cheese, or popcorn) in jars and having the children estimate the items based on their sense of smell. Close their eyes, give each child a cotton ball or sponge, and have them guess what they’re holding to focus their sense of touch. Sensory tables with containers of water, sand, ice, or themed items are fantastic. Use Play-doh, clay, or Slime to encourage developmentally beneficial imaginative play.

3. Mindfulness Through Guided Imagery

Guided imagery fosters the development of children’s imaginations. It also aids in the integration of new knowledge with existing knowledge. When you begin a new topic in your lecture, have your students close their eyes (if that is comfortable) and walk them on a fictitious journey. If you’re studying the ocean, for example, have students envision getting into underwater vehicles and travelling around the ocean waters in search of fish, creatures, and plants. Finish the guided relaxation with a few deep breaths, and then they can sketch their thoughts and discuss them as a class. Depending on your curriculum subjects, you may take them on pretend adventures into outer space, to the beach, forest, or a deserted island, on a safari, or up a volcano. Take your children on journeys through relaxation stories to help them calm down and re-energise.

4. Mindfulness Through Movement

Humans are born to move. Our distant ancestors spent their days running from predators or hunting for food. Movement is a natural part of human life that has become a luxury in modern times. Introducing movement into your classroom allows your students to tap into their natural way of learning. Yoga is a simple strategy for adding movement to your school day. Children can mimic their environment to develop their self-expression and self-confidence. They can practice yoga in their chairs, in the gym, or outside. Again, using poses that correspond with your class topic makes the motion relevant and meaningful for your students.

Are you interested in learning more about mindfulness?

Our 6-week Mindfulness course teaches the learner what mindfulness is, the importance of mindfulness in relationships, the neuroscience of self-compassion, and an understanding of how to apply mindfulness in your life.

Our CPD Accredited Understanding Stress course teaches the learner what stress is, how it can be managed and prevented, and how you can support someone who is struggling with stress.

For more information on how stress, including stress management through mindfulness, download our stress guide.

At Shawmind, we want to make it easier for you to handle moments of poor mental health by reducing stigma and increasing awareness and support options. That’s why all funds raised through our online courses support Headucation – our mission to train teachers in the basics of mental health support.

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Simple ways to use the “5 ways to wellbeing” for young people

It’s the Mental Health Foundation’s Wellbeing Week from 27th June 2022! It’s a fantastic initiative to provide young people with the tools and knowledge to help manage their mental health. 

As a champion of children and young people’s mental health, Shawmind wants to use this week to help young people, as well as those who support young people (like teachers, parents, and volunteers), find simple ways to implement good habits and practices for looking after mental health and preventing early symptoms from deteriorating.  

What are the “5 ways to wellbeing”? 

Wellbeing Week revolves around the 5 ways to wellbeing – a set of behaviours identified by the NEF that “enhance individual well-being and may have the potential to reduce the total number of people who develop mental health disorders in the longer term.” 

These are: 

  1. Connect 
  2. Be active 
  3. Take notice 
  4. Keep learning 
  5. Give 

In this article, we’ve highlighted some simple ways young people can implement these behaviours in their daily life – as well as ways that you can support young people in your care to improve their wellbeing.  

1. Connect

Building and maintaining connections with the people around you – like friends, family, and members of your community – can help you feel supported and enriched in your daily life.  

How can young people ‘connect’ for mental health? 

  • Join support and talking groups. Want to talk to someone? Come along to our Breathe Café for real conversations about anything that’s bothering you.  
  • Join sports teams or community groups e.g. Scouts, Girl Guides 
  • Reach out to someone you wouldn’t normally talk to at school – you might find you have more in common than you think! 

How can you help young people ‘connect’ for their mental health?

  • Encourage group activities in the classroom that mix up the usual cliques 
  • Organise after-school activities with other children and young people 
  • Car share during the school run or walk to school in groups 

2. Be Active

Physical activity releases endorphins that make us feel good. Regular activity can boost your mood, release stress, and improve your self-confidence.  

How can young people ‘be active’ for mental health?

  • Try to walk a little every day – e.g. walk to school or go for a walk before dinner 
  • Join a team sport or sporting club 
  • Stretch for 5-10 mins after waking up 

How can you help young people ‘be active’ for mental health? 

  • Besides PE, get students active during lessons by moving around the classroom or going outside 
  • Organise walks with groups of people like friends and family  
  • Get active at the weekends – go to an adventure park, go cycling, or spend time playing in the garden 

3. Take Notice

Taking notice of the things around you – big and small – can help you savour the moment, reflect on your experiences and appreciate what matters most to you. Mindfulness has been linked to lower stress levels and greater daily satisfaction. 

How can young people ‘take notice’ for mental health? 

  • Take 5 minutes at the end of the day to reflect on something good that happened that you are grateful for  
  • Make a note of anything unusual or interesting you see during the day 
  • Set yourself a challenge at the start of the day to spot as many things as you can that match a specific criteria, e.g. spot as many purple things as possible 
  • When you get stressed or irritable, take slow breaths and take notice of the things you can see, hear, smell, feel, and taste 

How can you help young people ‘take notice’ for mental health? 

  • Organise a scavenger hunt or spotting game to help young people pay attention and take a closer look at the world around them 
  • Point out things when you spot them so that young people start noticing them too 
  • Start conversations with young people about how their day went so they get an opportunity to reflect 
  • Set an example by reflecting on your own positive experiences in front of them 

4. Keep Learning

Learning and achieving new things improves confidence, feelings of purpose, and daily enjoyment. Besides regular lessons, young people must have something to learn that they find fun and personal.  

How can young people ‘keep learning’ for mental health? 

  • Learn how to make your favourite meal  
  • Learn all the words to a new song you like 
  • Learn how to do a new hairstyle 

How can you help young people ‘keep learning’ for mental health? 

  • Ask questions about what young people want to do when they’re older and help them find learning activities that will help them learn skills for the future 
  • Provide a mix of activities in the classroom to support learning e.g. physical activities, reading and writing, musical activities, arts and crafts 
  • Find and share information about national challenges that might interest them e.g. National Novel Writing Month 
  • Encourage them to try new hobbies based on their interests e.g. sport, music, reading, crafts, etc 

5. Give to Others

Giving your time and energy to someone other than you can feel incredibly rewarding and make you feel good – as well as being a great way to connect with others! 

How can young people ‘give to others’ for mental health? 

  • Ask a friend or family member how their day was.  
  • Do something nice for a loved one like completing a chore or treating them to a  
  • Go the extra mile for someone’s gift by getting them something unexpected or making it yourself 
  • Volunteer for a charity. Want to volunteer for Shawmind? We have lots of ways you can get involved! Visit our volunteering page for more information.  
  • Fundraise for a cause you believe in. Want to help us improve mental health support in schools? Find out how to fundraise for us! 

How can you help young people ‘give to others’ for mental health? 

  • Organise activities to support the local community 
  • Set an example for young people by bringing them along when you help others 

Teachers and schools play a vital role in the support of mental health conditions in young people, but they need more help to do it effectively. Our #Headucation campaign aims to train all UK teachers in the basics of mental health support which will allow them to comfortably provide young people with the support they need. 

Help us to provide as many fully-funded training sessions to schools as possible. Help us raise money by donating, buying a product from our store or signing up for one of our training courses. 

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How to prevent loneliness in schools

Loneliness is often associated with older age groups but data has shown that young people are more likely to feel lonely than older age groups. So, how can we prevent loneliness in schools, and why is this so important to the mental health of young people?

Alongside the effects that loneliness can have on childrens’ physical health, research shows that loneliness can also be a risk factor for depression and anxiety. Social interactions significantly support positive mental health and give us opportunities to give and receive help when we need it.

What are the signs of loneliness in pupils?

Anyone who interacts with children must be able to recognise when a child is struggling with their mental health and, more significantly, know how to take proper action.

Even if a pupil doesn’t tell you they’re lonely, they may show you signs, for example:

  • They always spend break times at school alone.
  • They aren’t invited to spend time with friends after school.
  • They say they feel sad, or cry often.
  • They spend a lot of time by themselves (although, some children are content to spend a lot of time alone, while others may be part of a large social circle but still feel lonely).

So, what can be done to help our children deal with loneliness? For many, school, and especially teachers, may be a safe haven. They may make kids feel safe and included by offering chances and resources for them to learn and play in a safe setting, as well as practical measures that can be implemented.

At Shawmind, we recommend that anyone who works with children should be well equipped to be that “safe haven”. Our Youth Mental Health Awareness course is an interactive learning session covering various aspects of children and young people’s mental health – from how to identify potential issues, to how you can help and support a young person who may be struggling. Our Headucation campaign works alongside schools to develop a culture shift towards sustainable better mental health and wellbeing – free of charge to the schools.

How to improve awareness and reduce loneliness in schools

A child’s mental health is just as vital as their physical health when it comes to their safety and well-being. It influences every part of their lives, including their academic achievement, relationships, and physical health. It can be difficult for adults to recognise when a child is experiencing loneliness, and it can be tough for young people to speak out about the loneliness difficulties they are dealing with.

Allow school to be a place of real, deep belonging for pupils. Create a sense of community by getting students involved in activities that give them an opportunity to socialise with each other. These activities could include everything from starting yearbook and chess clubs to drama groups and sports teams. Activities that involve community service are also good opportunities for the students to socialise with each other and externally.

Another great idea is normalising the concept of youngsters spending time alone by providing outdoor seating spaces for reading or providing pleasant settings for kids to work in, such as a garden, to celebrate doing individual activities. We should also consider how powerful and potentially harmful talks and stories depicting a “perfect life full of friends” may be, especially for lonely pupils.

Developing young peoples’ communication and emotional literacy skills is important to reduce the impact loneliness will have on mental health. Starting a conversation about mental health and providing books on a variety of mental health topics can be great ways to start the conversation about loneliness and allow pupils to express their feelings.

Headucation emphasises the importance of early intervention. Children and teenagers spend much of their adolescent lives in education settings surrounded by teachers. Yet, with no mandatory or government-funded mental health training, many signs of mental health go unnoticed or get mishandled by the school staff.

By training teachers in the basics of mental health, they will be better equipped to spot the signs of mental health struggles in young people, support mental health problems in the classroom and signpost young people to alternative mental health resources besides the GP.

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Minimising Stress and Anxiety in the Classroom

A common mental health disorder such as anxiety or depression affects 1 in 6 young individuals. Although 75% of diagnosable mental health issues appear before the age of eighteen, it takes an average of ten years to acquire adequate treatment.

Since depression and anxiety are among the top causes of mental illness and disability among adolescents, it is critical for those who work with children to be conscious of minimising stress and anxiety in the classroom and to be able to spot the signs of a child in distress.

What are the signs of stress and anxiety in the classroom?

With children spending seven hours a day at school, teachers need to know the signs of stress and anxiety. Here are some signs that teachers should be aware of:

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Poor performance
  • Feeling tired
  • Change in eating habits
  • Easily angered or irritated
  • Frequent toilet visits
  • Constant worrying and negative thoughts
  • Complaining of physical pain like stomach aches and headaches
  • Emotional outbursts (e.g., crying or tantrums)
  • Being clingy
  • Disruptive behaviour

Symptoms of mental health conditions can often overlap (i.e. they are often ‘comorbid’). Also, a single instance may not always be cause for concern however if you notice multiple instances or a prolonged period of emotional and physical symptoms, longer than two weeks, for example, you should seek professional help.

Some schools have a designated mental health lead, a Mental Health First Aider, or Youth Mental Health First Aider, however, having all staff equipped with the ability to recognise mental health symptoms and the ability to support your Mental Health First Aider / designated mental health lead will lay the foundations for you to provide the necessary support to all students and create a positive classroom environment.

You’ll be better equipped to help someone struggling with mental health and facilitate their recovery if you understand the symptoms. All these topics and more are covered in our Basics of Mental Health Support training course, which provides an introduction to the mental health process. Or, how about placing teachers on our CPD-accredited Youth Mental Health Awareness course.

What can be done to reduce stress and anxiety in the classroom?

The best thing you can do to help reduce stress and anxiety in the classroom is to understand what factors affect mental health and work on limiting these.

There are occasions when factors in a child’s school environment can have an impact on their mental health, for example, public speaking, unfamiliar transitions and bullying. Identifying these factors can help you better understand how to help someone who is going through a difficult time. Cyberbullying, for example, can have a negative impact on young people’s mental health.

Understanding what it is, how it occurs, and how it affects people’s mental health can enable you to provide support to individuals who are affected while also reducing their exposure to it in the school setting.

We offer a variety of self-learning courses available to help you improve your mental health knowledge and provide the best possible environment for your classroom.

How can pupils be supported through stress and anxiety?

1. Start a conversation about mental health

One of the best ways to ensure mental health is spoken about in your classroom is to raise the topic yourself. This will increase the children’s awareness, reduce stigma around the topic and increase the likelihood that they will seek help when they need it.

We love starting with:

“Tell me about a time when you were happy/sad/stressed…”

“How well do you feel on a scale of 1-10?”

Opening up this conversation can feel daunting and adults often worry they will say or do the wrong thing. Here are some tips on talking to children about mental health that we find effective.

2. Read about mental health

Providing books that discuss various aspects of mental health is also great for creating an open space for mental health discussions. These books can also help children develop empathy towards people struggling with mental health issues, reduce stigma surrounding the topic and create confidence to seek help when it is needed.

Here are some children’s mental health books that we love. These range from short, fun, illustrated tales for younger children to longer features suited to older children and teenagers.

3. Mental health classroom activities

Sometimes the best learning is done through fun! We suggest opening up a mental health dialogue through doing engaging activities with the class. There are lots of great activities available online that tackle mental health in an age-appropriate way, allowing for children to learn how to articulate their thoughts and feelings.

Our #SockItToStigma activity pack can be a fun starting point to open opportunities to speak about mental health, breaking the stigma around this serious subject.

4. Complete mental health training courses

At Shawmind, we offer a wide variety of mental health courses designed for individuals and professionals to develop their understanding of mental health, learn how to best support young people, and what to do in an emergency.

We are also raising funds for our Headucation campaign that will enable us to offer free mental health education for teachers. We are mobilizing corporate sponsors and individuals to help us bring about a transformation in the mental health of the next generation: working with local educational authorities and partner organisations we are bringing a whole-school approach to mental health, helping schools to develop a culture shift towards sustainable better mental health and wellbeing – free of charge to the schools.

Help us by donating, fundraising or signing up for one of our courses.

Donate to #Headucation2025

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How to support mental health in classrooms

Mental health affects many children, with 75% of diagnosable mental health conditions being present before the age of eighteen. Mental health in young people often goes undiagnosed, however, with an estimated 20% of children having an undiagnosed mental illness.

With depression and anxiety being some of the leading causes of illness and disability among adolescents it is crucial for those working with children to be able to recognise the signs of mental health conditions in adolescence and understand how to support them effectively.

Although mental health training in schools isn’t considered “mandatory” by the government, teachers play a key role in supporting good mental health. Without the right training, however, it can be hard to know how to support mental health in the classroom. Training initiatives and campaigns such as Headucation can support you in better understanding mental health in the classroom and how you can support your students.

Tips for supporting mental health in classrooms:

1. Understand mental health needs within schools.

Being able to define mental health in children and understanding the factors that affect children’s mental health is an important step in learning how you can support mental health within classrooms. Mental health affects all children differently and therefore having a solid understanding of the needs within your school will allow you to provide the right support and information to students experiencing mental health issues. Have a look at our Youth Mental Health Awareness training course if you are looking to upskill and educate yourself or your staff to help you understand the mental health needs within your school.

2. Learn to recognise and understand the symptoms of mental health

Most schools should have a trained Mental Health First Aider, or Youth Mental Health First Aider, however providing all staff with the knowledge they need to recognise and understand mental health symptoms will give you the ability to support your Mental Health First Aider and will lay the foundations for you to implement a mental wellbeing plan. By understanding the symptoms, you will be better equipped to give support to someone struggling with mental health and facilitate the recovery process. Our Basics of Mental Health Support training course provides an overview of the mental health process that covers all of these areas and more.

3. Understand what factors affect mental health in classrooms. How can you limit these?

Sometimes there can be factors within a school setting that can affect a child’s mental health. Identifying these factors can allow you to better understand how to support someone struggling with it. Cyberbullying, for example, can affect mental health in young people. Understanding what it is, how it occurs and the effect it has on people’s mental health will allow you to both offer support to those affected and reduce their exposure to it within the school environment. We offer several self-learning courses that support your understanding of different areas of mental health and factors that can affect mental health in individuals.

4. Educate students about mental health

Learning about mental health in schools helps to reduce stigma around the topic by raising awareness and providing children with accurate information. By starting a conversation with young people about mental health you can increase their understanding and awareness and reduce stigmas and the fear of judgement often associated with mental health. Read more about different ways to start a conversation about mental health in your classroom.

There is a lot of stigma around mental health, especially in young people, and it can therefore be difficult to identify mental health concerns in schools. Following the above tips can help you support young people struggling with mental health, however, it is equally important to remove the stigma associated with it. This February we are running out annual Sock it to Stigma! campaign to raise awareness about the stigma associated with mental health and the damage it can cause. Help your school show an understanding and acceptance of mental and emotional wellbeing challenges in both children and staff. #SockItToStigma is a fun and interactive way to get these conversations started. Use this opportunity to talk about mental health in your classrooms.

One of the key ways you can support young people with their mental health is by referring them to expert or expert resources and by providing alternative mental health support for those who don’t wish to visit their GP for support.

Teachers and schools play a vital role in the support of mental health conditions in children, but they need more help to do it effectively. Our #Headucation campaign aims to train all UK teachers in the basics of mental health support which will allow them to comfortably provide children with the support they need.

All funds raised during #SockItToStigma will go straight into our #Headucation fund. Help us to provide as many fully-funded training sessions to schools as possible. Help us raise money by donating, buying a product from our store or signing up for one of our training courses.

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