Stevenage students praised for speaking openly about their mental health at wellbeing event

England Athletics mental health ambassador Vicky Tzanetis speaking at The John Henry Newman School's

England Athletics mental health ambassador Vicky Tzanetis speaking at The John Henry Newman School's wellbeing event in Stevenage. Picture: Charlie Anderson - Credit: Archant

Around 200 people turned out for a Stevenage school’s first ‘wellbeing event’ which centred on discussions around mental health – something which sees one in 10 students diagnosed.

The evening was hosted by The John Henry Newman School in Hitchin Road, and included talks, eight workshops and more than 40 stands from local businesses.

England Athletics mental health ambassador Vicky Tzanetis and Kieran Murphy from Phase – which works alongside young people in Hitchin to promote wellbeing and resilience – were among those to speak.

JHN sixth formers who are wellbeing ambassadors at the school also addressed the audience, speaking openly about their struggles with mental health.

Assistant headteacher Ruth Davies praised the courage of the students, and said: “To talk in front of a crowd of 200 people about any subject is difficult at their age. To talk openly about their personal challenges, is incredibly brave and not something most people would ever be able to do.

“The feedback from parents and pupils has been incredible. They are such positive role models for our younger pupils and have made such a difference over this year promoting wellbeing and changing attitudes to mental health.”

Following the talks, pupils and parents had the opportunity to take part in different workshops which focused on strategies to cope with self-harm, exam stress, resilience and mindfulness.

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There were also stands that gave people the chance to seek advice from lots of different organisations and charities including Mind, the Samaritans, CAMHS, Safe Space and Phase.

Alongside these stands there were also lots of companies present to give pupils and parents ideas of activities they could try to help relieve the stress of everyday life.

JHN head Clive Mathew said: “We wanted to give parents and pupils the opportunity to seek advice if they had a particular concern, but also think about what they can do to maintain good wellbeing.

“We were delighted with the turnout of parents and pupils which demonstrates just how important wellness is to people.

“We would also wish to show our gratitude to everybody who gave up their time to attend the event.”