New Mills school wins mental health award
A school in New Mills has received a top award for its work supporting the mental health of both staff and students.
St Mary’s in New Mills has been given the highest accolade of Gold Accreditation from Leeds Beckett University for the work they have been doing to look after the mental health and wellbeing of their pupils and staff.
Teacher Jo Mallabar is the mental health ambassador for the school and has been working on the project for over a year.
She said: “I’m so pleased we have the recognition for all the hard work we do every day.
“We already had a great mental health programme in place so for us it wasn’t doing new things, it was just showcasing the work we had been doing and backing it up with the evidence.”
Across the school, mental health is talked about and looked after for both staff and pupils.
Staff have confidential drop-in sessions to discuss how they are feeling and any issues they need to raise.
They also receive surprise treats throughout the year like a creme egg or a chocolate bar.
Students are supported through a buddy scheme to give them a pupil voice and help speak up.
Headteacher Patrica Chapman said: “Mental health is just as important as physical health.
“Before lockdown one we were doing mental health walks with the whole school three times a year.
“During the difficult times of home schooling we were doing them every week. Just getting the children out of the classroom and a chance to chat about things in a low pressure environment really helped our students.
“I’m so proud of Mrs Mallabar for all her hard work ensuring the whole school have better mental health and better tools for supporting both staff and pupils.”
Dr Pooky Knightsmith, from the Leeds Beckett University which organises the School Mental Health Award, added: “Supporting schools through the award is always a real privilege as it’s a vehicle for sustainable change with children right at its heart.
“Staff feel empowered by the process and take their whole school approach to mental health forwards in leaps and bounds; quickly but in ways that will be felt by the whole community over time.”