The British School in The Netherlands (BSN) celebrated Children’s Mental Health Week the week of 6 – 10 February 2023. For our four campuses, Junior School Leidschenveen (JSL), Junior School Vlaskamp (JSV), Senior School Leidschenveen (SSL) and Senior School Voorschoten (SSV), this marked the second year it was celebrated as a collaborative, cross-campus event. This year’s theme was ‘Let’s Connect’:
'Let’s Connect' is about making meaningful connections for all, during Children’s Mental Health Week – and beyond. People thrive in communities, and this connection is vital for our wellbeing.
"When we have healthy connections – to family, friends and others – this can support our mental health and our sense of wellbeing. And when our need for rewarding social connections is not met, we can sometimes feel isolated and lonely – which can have a negative impact on our mental health.”- Place2Be
Why Celebrate Children’s Mental Health Week?
Children’s Mental Health Week was first launched in 2015 by children’s mental health charity Place2Be, “with the aim to shine a spotlight on the importance of children and young people’s health” [Place2Be]. The week serves as a reminder that looking after our mental health is just as important as all other aspects of our overall health. Throughout the week, students were introduced to ways they can support their own wellbeing, as well as that of others, tying in with the theme of ‘Let’s connect’.
The Importance of Taking Time For You
At Senior School Leidschenveen (SSL), students attended wellbeing-themed assemblies throughout the week. They were reminded of the importance of taking time for themselves by enjoying daily mental health lunchtime activities in the library, such as Zentangle colouring, jigsaw puzzles, listening to music and reading books. Additionally, each day during students’ Tutor time, there was a lesson or activity about connecting, both to yourself and others.
Leading on from Children’s Mental Health Week, Senior School Leidschenveen plans to launch a Student Mental Health working group, where students will have the opportunity to discuss and take the initiative on mental health matters, with the aim that students take ownership of the sessions to benefit the wellbeing of all students at SSL.
What Makes You Feel Connected?
At Senior School Voorschoten, students spent the week reflecting on the ‘Let’s Connect’ theme. They started off the week by decorating the Atrium with paper chains that symbolically represented their connections. The result was a beautiful depiction of what makes our students feel connected, with meaningful answers like ‘making food with my friends’ and ‘creating music with my band’. In their Tutor Groups, they also discussed what people could do if they feel disconnected; the students offered lots of thoughtful suggestions, which will be collated into a poster to be permanently displayed.
The SSV Student Leaders ended the week with a bang. They did a fantastic job of running a ‘Happiness Café’ for younger students, packed full of fun and engaging wellbeing activities and games such as pin making, rock painting, conversation cards, giant chess, making friendship bracelets, and more. Students who attended the Happiness Café enjoyed it immensely and even asked if it could be run again!
Exploring Different Ways to Connect
It was an action-packed week at Junior School Vlaskamp! Our Wellbeing Ambassadors ran lunchtime wellbeing workshops for their peers, and younger and older students were ‘buddied up’ for various activities such as reading and art – both wonderful ways for year groups and classes to connect with each other.
On Friday, students were surprised with an impromptu lunch disco – an opportunity to enjoy music, dancing and connecting with friends. The week ended with a wellbeing and mindfulness-themed Family Friday.
Acts of Kindness
Throughout the week, students at Junior School Leidschenveen explored how acts of kindness can help us feel connected to others and, in turn, can support our wellbeing, linking it to their charity work for their Charity Day the following week. Following on from Children’s Mental Health Week, the Wellbeing Ambassadors at Junior School Leidschenveen (JSL) led an assembly for students on this topic, in which Year 6 students presented a representative from the charity SPOTS with a cheque for €2,458.10, raised from selling almost 400 ‘JSL in Space’ t-shirts.
Year 5 students expanded on the week’s theme in their daily ‘Healthy Minds’ sessions by looking at ways they can grow emotionally and reading the book ‘My Hidden Chimp’ together, which helps children to understand their own emotions.
Thank You to the Wellbeing Team
One Junior School Vlaskamp student said of the week’s activities:
Children's Mental Health Week was fun because we got to do lots of fun activities and think about all the ways we connect with our friends. On one of the days, we even had a surprise disco during playtime!
We want to extend a big thank you to the BSN cross-campus Wellbeing Team, as well as our outstanding teaching and support staff, for coordinating the week’s activities and making it an impactful and memorable week for our students.