At the primary school that Denise works at in Tasmania, many members of the community are not as mentally healthy as they could be – students, staff, parents. She believed in a school where the mental health of everyone is a priority. It isn’t something to sweep under the carpet; rather Denise wanted mental health to be talked about.
Denise’s program, ‘A Mental Moment’, is becoming a school-wide phenomena, but she started small.
Firstly, she decided to use the app, Smiling Mind, and so trialled using it herself for a while. Recognising the benefits of mindfulness for her learners, Denise then began introducing it with her class, just with select students at first and at set times. She noticed such a shift in engagement following a Smiling Mind session that she started to think about her learning program and rescheduled her timetable to practice mindfulness with her whole class, increasing attention for the rest of the day.
Given the success in her own classroom, Denise ran two staff meetings on mindfulness in a learning program (both with chocolate.. we like your thinking, Denise) and then she worked alongside staff to build capacity so that they could implement it in their classrooms, too.
All 23 of Denise’s learners have benefitted from ‘A Mental Moment’ this year. But it was the story of this child that really pulled on our heartstrings..
“A young lady in my class who suffers from anxiety found the Smiling Mind app difficult initially and could not sit or lie still. She found the deep breathing really hard. We had some one-on-one sessions together so that I was able to run her through the meditation in a safe and quiet place. This helped her to understand what she could expect in the classroom.
She now loves Smiling Mind time and even uses it at home. Whenever she feels anxious I watch her place her hands on her belly and take deep, slow breaths to calm before moving on with her learning. Her mum says she is sleeping so much better as well.”
Like the idea?
Denise would love your support for A Mental Moment, or for you to start a similar program in your school, and she’d love to hear about any ideas you have or lend a hand where she can. Shoot an email to firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to get in touch with Denise and we can connect you. Feel free to cheer her on in the comments below as well.
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