The UK Government is now advising schools to concentrate more on the wellbeing and emotional resilience of students with mental health issues. In plain language it simply means working on changing negative attitudes and perceptions, an area that has not received huge attention in recent years, but one that will become increasingly important according to author and positive thinking guru Michael Younge.
There is of course no doubt that schools are aware of what some have described as a mental health epidemic with many reporting a rise in stress, anxiety and panic attacks in their students as well as depression, self-harm and eating disorders, but the response has been mainly to introduce policies and strategies to cope with such issues rather than to directly address the causes.
According to the UK Government study entitled “Mental health and wellbeing provision in schools,” published in 2018 it was stated: “To further enable schools’ awareness of mental health, and to fully underpin how schools’ policies can promote the mental health and wellbeing of pupils, it might be helpful if there was a shift in the discourse of guidance and training from behaviour and behaviour management, to a focus on mental health, wellbeing and building emotional resilience.”
In real terms this means helping students to change the way they think and to expect positive outcomes from their actions. A study by Kings College, London, in 2016 which studied 102 subjects with anxiety disorder established that those who visualised positive outcomes and images reported greater happiness, restfulness and decreased anxiety, supporting a rising body of evidence in the UK and America that positive thinking works.
Since that report there has been further evidence supported by many other academic studies that positive thinking and in particular a positive mental attitude can be life changing and it’s encouraging to see that schools and academies are now beginning to take this more seriously.
There are of course many excellent charitable organisations that visit schools and talk generally about positivity but there has until now been little available in terms of teaching the subject in a way that will realistically alter negative perceptions – until now.
In response to this Powerful Positive Thinking has been working closely with schools to produce a course that can be presented by teachers or counsellors in an interactive way that allows students to identify their own negative issues and work on personal strategies to overcome them.
Pilot studies have exceeded expectations with counsellors reporting major changes in attitudes, body language and negative perceptions. Even more encouraging, it would seem that the course has provided the catalyst for students to make essential life changes.
The course is in two parts with the first dealing with the thought process and how it can be changed. The first section also focuses on a wide range of negatives and how to let go of them.
The key area is its flexibility with frequent pauses to allow students to discuss what they have heard to allow each person to get a clearer idea of their own personal issues and in time find areas where they can improve and change.