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Mental health among Suffolk school pupils was top priority at inter-school conference

PUBLISHED: 17:30 26 April 2016

Mindfulness and wellbeing conference to state and independent schools, held at Framlingham College last week

Mindfulness and wellbeing conference to state and independent schools, held at Framlingham College last week

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The issue of how the education system can better support the mental health of youngsters was tackled at a conference promoting mindfulness and wellbeing last week.

Paul Taylor, headmaster at Framlingham College, was instrumental in organising the inter-school conference, to which with all state and independant junior and secondary schools invited from across East Anglia.

More than 140 people turned out to learn more about mental health issues amongst today’s young people, with representatives from both independent and state schools at junior and senior school level, parents, school governors and mental health practitioners among the audience.

Speaking at the event was Claire Kelly, director of Mindfulness in Schools; James Shone, author and founder of website www.icanandiam.com; Tom Caston, head of pastoral at Framlingham College; Mary Spink, mindfulness and well-being expert, and Dr Hazel Harrison, clinical psychologist with more than 10 years’ experience in the NHS and private sector.

The event was organised by Mr Taylor, following his pledge for increased focus in promoting mindfulness and wellbeing at the college as highlighted in the headmasters annual address at its speech day last year.

Speaking afterwards, he said: “The conference was a great success. We were delighted with the number of delegates who attended from the full range of schools, and we could not have asked for a higher quality of talks on this critical issue.�

“�I was so pleased to see so many here; an indication in itself of how seriously schools are taking this issue, which is so central to pupils prospering at school.”

With over 140 guests present in the school theatre, a range of speakers spoke about addressing the very real mental health issues amongst today�s young people. The day proved a huge success. Delegates included representatives from both the independent and maintained sectors at both junior and senior school level, with parents, school governors and local mental health practitioners also present.

With mental health issues ever more prevalent in teenagers Paul Taylor, Framlingham College Headmaster, believes �schools must make it a priority to equip today�s generation of schoolchildren with strategies and coping mechanisms to enable them to deal with the pressures they face; pressures which are exacerbated through the parallel world of social media and the relentless drive for academic achievement�.

The key message from both speakers being that schools only have one chance to get this process right, so it needs to be done carefully and accurately in order to be fully sustainable.

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