Students at King's Lynn school to become Mental Wellbeing Ambassadors to support peers
A group of students at a secondary school in Lynn are set to take on more responsibility for their peers by supporting their mental wellbeing.
Around 30 Year 9 pupils from Springwood High School, who were chosen after an application and interview process, are being trained to become Mental Wellbeing Ambassadors.
As part of this training, the pupils, along with six sixth formers, were visited by University of East Anglia students from the Headucate society on Wednesday who led a workshop on mental health.
Hannah Armstrong, workshop lead at Headucate, said the society was launched due to the lack of formal mental health education in schools in the UK.
She said: “Whenever you look at mental health issues arising, it starts in childhood, so it’s about getting people to be aware of it now.”
Dan Hobbs, assistant head teacher and head of year 9, said the idea for Mental Wellbeing Ambassadors came about as it was an issue they wanted to address.
“Year 9 is a good year for this, as it’s bang in the middle of their time at school so it lets the role grow and they can pass on their knowledge to other people as well,” he said.
“In year 9 we are really trying to develop student leadership, we have got sports leaders set up for lots of clubs and tournaments, as well as form ambassadors who take the registers for the tutors and make sure students wear the right uniforms.
“So this is another leadership role that we wanted to put out there.”
Mr Hobbs said as the pupils had to apply for the role, it means that they have got those “who really wanted to do it”.
“As much as we think the kids want to talk to us, it isn’t the same as talking to another pupil,” he added.
He believes stress and anxiety are the issues that are most likely to affect pupils.
“My worry is that a pupil could be crying in a toilet somewhere and someone would walk past them, and we need for them to help them.”
The ambassadors are not being used to “tackle a problem” though.
“It’s not because there’s been a massive influx of people anxious or stressed, but it’s the next step in getting these kids to transition into leaders,” Mr Hobbs added.
“It’s 30 people around school checking other people are okay.”
Although there could be concerns that these students could become “burdened” by other people’s issues, the training will ensure they know when to “offload” it.
Mr Hobbs said he was “so proud” of the pupils who will be taking on these roles.
“The take-up has been really impressive, with so many kids, I have been a bit gobsmacked by how caring the kids are.
“All the kids are taking it really seriously, I’m so proud of them.”
The Lynn News spoke to some of the 30 Year 9 Springwood pupils who will be taking on the role of Mental Wellbeing Ambassadors.
They were Eleanor Burton, Amie Bugg, Alina John, Daniel Cruz and Katy Leet.
The group said they felt it was a good idea to have discussions about mental health issues at their age so they have an awareness of it.
Alina said: “It’s really important to talk about it, then we can understand it and about how to help people.”
Daniel added: “If we ignore it, it can lead to bigger issues and also if we don’t talk about this, then some people may not even know what this is until they are in their 30s.”
They all agreed that their generation has the added pressure of social media, which can lead to mental health issues for some, and that pupils can confide in their peers in a different way than they can with adults.
“People don’t always want to speak to a teacher, but it’s easier to open up to us,” Eleanor said.
Amie added: “We are a different generation as we have social media now, which may affect people’s mental health and self-esteem.”
“We’ll be moving onto exams soon, so it’s good to be able to try to deal with it now,” Katy said.