As part of Children’s Mental Health Week pupils in Years 7 and 8 were treated to workshops by Alex from the Self Esteem Team on Thursday 6th February 2020.  The Self-Esteem team gave us this description of Alex:

We’ve all heard the tale of good boys turned bad, but what about the other way around.  Meet Alex -his tumultuous time at school makes for an interesting CV. This naughty kid turned teacher now relates with teen mini-mes in schools across the country. He knows first-hand the challenges young people face with identity, staying in line, and creating connections based on transactions rather than emotions. As a non-judgemental ear, he’s the ultimate listener who gives advice in an effective, older sibling way.

The focus for Year 7 was exam stress and self-esteem.  Alex asked them to consider what motivates them and how they can use this to help them prepare for exams.  He talked about how anxiety can make you feel, both mentally and physically, and explained the science behind ‘fight or flight’.  He helped our pupils understand how they each respond to their own anxieties and gave them techniques to practise when they are feeling stressed and anxious.  Later in the afternoon the children looked at the relationship between bullies and victims; both suffer from low self-esteem.  He gave them a fantastic visual representation of how children don’t have to ‘wear’ the labels they are given by others.

Year 8, who heard from Maz from the team last year, had sessions on drugs and addiction.  The children were completely absorbed in his testimony as he described his path towards drugs.  He educated them on the different classifications of drugs and the effects they can have on our bodies and minds.  His mission is to arm children with knowledge so that when they are put in situations where they are presented with choices they are fully informed.  Later this continued with a second workshop on addiction.  Here Alex moved away from drugs and spoke about addiction to gaming and social media.  He asked the children to think about the trigger, action, investment and rewards that these things bring and how to break the cycles; simple solutions like turning off notifications work wonders!

Alex also spoke to some of our parents about the pressures that our children are facing and how we can best support them.  The talk was really thought-provoking for us teachers and parents alike; what messages are we giving our children in the complements we give them?  What are our children seeing subliminally in the material on social media and how do we reinforce or challenge this?  We were asked by Alex to model behaviour that we want to see in our children and to engage in dialogues about what they are watching.

There was something for us all to learn on Thursday!  Many thanks to the parents and staff who came along to hear the talk and to Alex for his wise words.