Last weekend saw the official opening of the new Felsted School Wellbeing Centre, the first in-school facility of its type in the country. Pupil wellbeing matters at Felsted and is at the core of our pastoral care, with the aim to support and promote the wellbeing and good mental health of our pupils, staff and parents. The school aims to create a culture of awareness of mental health needs, with no stigma or discrimination, providing high quality mental health training for all members of the community.
The Centre was opened by former Felstedian, Dr Simon Walker and his wife Dr Jo Walker, who have used their 25 years’ experience in education to develop AS tracking, now used by Felsted and many schools across the country as a means to help identify and mitigate mental health problems in young people as they navigate their way through life.
Headmaster, Mr Chris Townsend, comments; “Our new Wellbeing Centre puts pupil wellbeing at the heart of everything we do and we have long had a range of strategies to help pupils negotiate the pressures of growing up and being adolescent in the changing modern world. We want to support our pupils to become well-adjusted young people who are happy; happy in themselves, happy in their relationships with one another, and happy with who they are, ready to go out and face the world. And that is why wellbeing matters at Felsted.”
Members of the Felsted community, including parents, pupils and staff, were invited to the opening, which is located right at the heart of the school, providing a calming and relaxing place for people to take time out for short periods during their busy day. The opening included an address by Simon Walker on his company’s work with schools to understand how mental health can affect young people and the best ways to help. The community also heard testimonials from students on their positive experiences of the centre so far.
One Felsted parent commented; “Felsted has taken a lead in this area, showing children that it is absolutely okay to seek support for their mental wellbeing. Pupils have an onsite Medical Centre to go to for their bumps and bruises, now they have a Wellbeing Centre for their mental health.”
When a child or young person is in distress and needing support, there are a range of different techniques that Felsted counsellors may use. We believe that everybody has it in their power to heal themselves and this can be done using creative therapies such as art, sand play or play therapy. These gentle and non-threatening methods allow each young person to work through what is troubling them at a very deep level. This is especially suitable for the very young or for those who find verbalising their feelings very difficult and they usually find it great fun! However, many young people just want somebody with whom to talk things through so that they can develop new coping strategies to help them build their resilience. For these, we offer the traditional ‘talking therapy’ type of approach.
One Felsted Upper Sixth student comments; “After a stressful period involving Oxbridge decisions and IB mocks, I suddenly found I was crippled with anxiety about the future. After chatting with my Housemistress, I met a counsellor at school and found that after just two sessions discussing how I felt, I was able to uncover new strategies to help me move past those difficulties.”
Former Felstedian, Dr Simon Walker comments; “Felsted’s Wellbeing Centre is a visible sign for pupils, parents and staff alike that emotional & social development is as important as academic development. Judging by the way pupils we met had already learned to reflect on their own journey, it’s clearly a signpost which is already being followed.”
Further information can be found at www.felsted.org/boarding-day/pupil-wellbeing or why not visit Felsted and find out more at their upcoming Open Day on Saturday 12th May.