Wellbeing is placed at the heart of all we do at DESS. As a school, we prioritise the health and wellbeing of every student, staff and community member, so that each individual can be at their best. We strive to create flourishing students, teachers and families through our broad range of wellbeing initiatives and strategies.
Our Wellbeing Team ensures that first wave quality teaching of social, emotional and wellbeing skills enables all students to recognise and understand their bodies and minds and allows them to thrive. The Wellbeing Lead consistently enhances our curricular wellbeing programmes, creating bespoke lessons to support our student's personal, social, moral and emotional development.
As a school, we effectively support all students with their social and emotional learning needs which ensures our learners are equipped to deal with the many challenges and triumphs that life throws their way.
DESS is committed providing excellent care and support for staff wellbeing. Staff feel respected and valued and both mental and physical wellbeing is promoted and encouraged for all of our staff members. Our dedicated Wellbeing Committee are advocates for effectively modelling and maintaining their wellbeing both in their professional and personal lives. The committee also gives staff a voice to collaboratively create solutions to difficulties and plan efficient measures to support the wellbeing of our wonderful Team DESS.
Wellbeing, in adults and children, is about being able to experience good health, happiness and high life-satisfaction while managing your stress. In times of stress, it is essential to call upon effective self-care strategies to help you and your children maintain a sense of wellbeing in the home.
Anna Bateman, a member of the advisory group to the Department for Education with a specialist interest in Mental Health, has the following tips.
- Mind-set & Thoughts: Sometimes, when our children struggle, they can only see problems and challenges. Try to take a few minutes, every day, with your children, perhaps writing in a notebook or chatting over a jigsaw or colouring, to be curious about their thoughts and feelings and what exactly is worrying your child. Try to understand what they know, or don’t know, empathise with their feelings and encourage the children to reframe their thinking with facts, give them a sense of control. It's important to help them notice a positive from the experience and find something they can be thankful for.
- Eat Well: Research shows that high levels of wellbeing were reported by individuals who ate more fruit and vegetables. To cram in the goodness into the little people, explain the nutritional benefits and ask the children to help you to choose/prepare food. With the little ones, play around with fruit and vegetables, snack presentation, frozen treats, smoothies etc. If possible, plan ahead to reduce the pressure of last-minute decisions for unhealthy, quick meals.
- Doing Good, Does You Good: There is a strong link between ‘doing good’ and compassion. Compassion for yourself is essential, when you are spinning many plates and the children need you more than ever. Being kinder to yourself while having compassion for others by helping those in need, can help to reduce your stress levels and provide exemplary role modelling for the children.
- Keep Physically Active: Studies show that there is approximately a 20-30% lower risk of depressing thoughts for adults participating in daily physical activity. During our time at home, keep the heavy thoughts away by committing to regular exercises; try the online classes or a quick walk / jog outside around curfew restrictions. The endorphins you’ll feel will be worth the effort, and the children will feel the lift in your mood. Taking control of your physical health has been proven to help you feel more in control of your mental health.
- Good Quality Sleep: If your thoughts are overwhelming and anxiety is creeping in at night, your sleep will be compromised. Try to commit your thoughts to paper, use relaxation apps or sleep stories and practise breathing exercises to help to relax your body.
- Accepting Help: We must learn to lean on others when necessary. We all need a helping hand at some point in our lives. Please reach out and ask for support to ease the pressure or accept an offer of help from a friend – “doing good” will help them too!
- Staying Connected: Depression and anxiety are linked with loneliness and social isolation. It can feel like a significant effort to connect with others, especially with your children, if you are struggling. If you can muster the strength, please do pick up the phone to a friend, video conference with your family or say ‘hi’ to a neighbour. Feeling ‘loved’ triggers the serotonin in your body, stabilises your mood and sets an example to your children to maintain relationships whilst also role modelling self-care.
Above all, be present and stay close to the moment – take it day by day. Take time to notice your feelings as they come and go, be aware of what your body is experiencing and give yourself permission to be ok with that. There are no bad feelings – all feelings are justified; it’s how you acknowledge and manage the feelings that will make a difference to you and your family around you.