Did you know that one in ten children and one in four adults suffer from mental health issues each year? That’s why we put so much importance on supporting our pupils here at Derby Grammar School and why, as part of World Mental Health Day, Mrs Jackson has led our whole-school assembly this morning.

Mrs Jackson is keen to raise awareness of mental health issues and her assembly began by explaining the importance of staying mentally healthy.

Six years ago she didn’t know anything about mental health. In a fairly short space of time, she went from having the confidence to travel around the world on her own to struggling to even walk out of the front door. She had no idea what was going on, felt very alone and was convinced that everyone else around her was fine.

Her counsellor recommended her to try the practice of mindfulness, and for her, this had an immediate positive impact.

Through mindfulness and talking about her issues she realised she wasn’t alone and gradually started to meet others who were experiencing the same as her. From this point she made it her mission to always talk openly and honestly about mental health and, in her role as a teacher, encourage the practice of mindfulness in school.

As part of the assembly some of the pupils who have been practising mindfulness told of their experiences and how it has helped them in every-day situations.

Adam is in Year 8 and is a keen golfer. He told pupils how mindfulness helps him in his sport. He said: “When I am playing golf everyone watches me tee off which often makes me feel nervous and under pressure to perform.

So now I look down at the ground, feel my club in my hands, take a practice swing, focus my attention on my glove, take three breaths and tap my feet. Then I move into position focusing on the ground beneath me, my grip on my club and my breath as it comes in and out.”

Year 4 pupil Sam said: “When I’m playing in a tennis match, whether I win or lose the point, I go to the back of the court and touch the fence or wall.

By focusing on the touching sensations in my hand, it helps to bring my attention back to the match and the next point available to me.”

Other pupils told how it helped them at home, in preparing for tests and even coping with a broken wrist. And it wasn’t just pupils. Mrs Charnock joined the Year 7 Mindfulness club this year and told how the techniques have helped her to sleep much better and keep calm when talking to large groups.

As part of World Mental Health Day Mrs Jackson invited the pupils to join her at lunchtime in the Mindfulness in Schools Project (MiSP) #SchoolsSitTogether. An activity to encourage all pupils to take time out of a busy day for five minutes of calmness and reflection.

Later on this afternoon the Primary School will be taking part in the BBC’s Growth Mindset and Wellbeing Lesson – Live. Led by Young Minds ambassador and Radio 1 Life Hacks presenter, Katie Thistleton, along with clinical psychologist Dr Hazel Harrison, the 30 minute live, interactive lesson explored recognising emotions, developing resilience and a growth mindset and tips for self-care.

Mrs Jackson said: “Mental health issues have affected me, and I knew that there were others out there who were suffering too.

When I first started learning about mindfulness, I felt the benefits to my health and wellbeing straight away and I wished that I had been taught these skills when I was a child.

Mindfulness teaches us how to use our breath to focus the mind. I am delighted that the boys have incorporated it into their daily routines. It’s important that we all take time to reflect in order to keep our minds healthy.

Mental health and the wellbeing of our pupils remains top of the agenda at Derby Grammar School. Our strong pastoral system supports this as we promote and encourage everyone to talk openly about mental health.”