Promoting positive mental health among our pupils in Bunscoil Rinn an Chabhlaigh is very important and forms an integral part of our aim to keep our Health Promoting Schools’ status.
In this busy and often difficult world that we live in it is important to take some time out to focus on our mental health. Stress and anxiety has become a significant problem for our children and we have many activities and programmes in our school that we regularly use to try and lessen some of the pressure the children in our classes might be experiencing.
Some of these are specific programmes such as Zippy’s Friends, Friendship Terrace, Weaving for Wellbeing, Friends for Life, Socially Speaking etc and these are taught as part of our S.P.H.E curriculum.
Other ways we try to improve mental health is through increased exercise and activities. As well as our P.E lessons each class tries to incorporate movement breaks using Go-Noodle, Cosmic Yoga, mini dance party, Bizzy Breaks and other quick & easy classroom based movement breaks. There are movement packs for such activities available in each classroom.
Also Active Schools Week is run once a year with the focus for an entire week being on moving physically, making exercise fun and learning new skills and sports.
Sometimes quiet, relaxing time is needed instead of a high octane movement break. A few minutes ‘time out’ during a busy day can really help the children to refocus. To aid this we have introduced ‘Mindfulness Mondays’ where classes may take 5 minutes break to relax, clear their minds and focus on listening to a mindfulness lesson. Mindfulness colouring sheets are also available to children who need some ‘time out’. Quiet, relaxing activites such as Breathing buddies, cute kitten therapy and ‘pause’ are fun and clever ways to help the children slow down and just ‘be’.
A teacher on staff, Ms. Dee Griffin takes groups once a week for a lesson. This is specifically aimed at children experiencing anxiety. Other initiatives in individual classes include a quiet corner and a sleep program being run in 4th– 6th classes which helps the children to look at and understand their sleeping patterns and how sleep quality can affect them physically & emotionally.
Here in Bunscoil Rinn an Chabhlaigh we also recognise the role of self-esteem, gratitude and empathy/kindness in positive mental health. As such we have included a gratitude minute/proud moment each day, a gratitude tree is on display in the school with leaves filled out by the children & staff, the Golden Heart Award is presented at each assembly for kindness and some classes have a positive self-talk wall with reminders to children on how to think positively.
Many classes also have a ‘worry jar/box where the children can write down their worries or fears and of course the staff are always available to chat with children who are anxious about anything.
The role of Healthy Eating cannot be over-emphasised when it comes to positive mental health and as such we have a very active Healthy Eating Committee in the school promoting healthy eating at school and home.
Finally when possible we will have an outside speaker from Cork Mental Health coming to speak to our 6th class students about positive mental health and specifically the transition to Secondary School.