Tollbar Academy Year 8 students, Maja Bruce and Amelia North (both 12), make posters and booklets highlighting how to recognise loneliness and how to help others as part of Mental Health Awareness Week. With them is Linda Willoughby, Curriculum Leader for Careers and Personal Development.
“I don’t think anyone should be lonely because everyone is special.” Twelve-year-old Amelia North was responding to the theme of loneliness, which is the focus of Mental Health Awareness Week for students at Tollbar Academy.
The students have been discussing the signs of loneliness and how to recognise them, both in themselves and in others. They discussed what they can do to help someone who is feeling lonely and how simple acts of kindness, such as saying good morning, can lift a person’s spirits.
Linda Willoughby, Curriculum Leader for Careers and Personal Development at Tollbar Academy, said students had responded with empathy and were creating posters and booklets highlighting the ways to recognise loneliness and how to help people to feel better.
“For an elderly person, saying good morning might be the only interaction they have all day, so it is very important to recognise that,” she said. “The students have been talking about how we can lift people up both within the academy and in the wider community.”
Amelia, who is making a booklet highlighting positive changes that we can all make to improve our spirits, said: “I don’t feel lonely myself but I know a few people who sometimes do. Also, if you are saying something to someone that is making them feel bad then you should stop. We should all be kinder to each other, talk more often and look after each other.”
Maja Bruce (12) is a peer mentor and a member of the Academy’s lunchtime Star Group, where Year 7 and 8 students can go along and talk about their feelings without judgement.
“If someone wants to talk about something we just listen and let them say what they need to say,” she said. “If you feel lonely sometimes it is good to just have someone to talk to.”
Mrs Willoughby said she was proud of the students’ response to Mental Health Awareness. “The students have shown real empathy for others as we have talked about loneliness and its impact on people. They have shown that they recognise that positive mental health is vital to well-being, and how important it is to make sure that both they and the people around them know where to go for help if they need to.”
Year 8 student Amelia North (12) says no-one should be left to feel lonely.