From the Deputy Head Master – Summer Hill

The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything … (and) the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6a,7b

Much of the work that has been happening in the background during this term’s Remote Learning has been on monitoring our young people’s mental health, resilience, help-seeking and wellbeing, a task made even more complex during an extended lockdown. When to intervene if we perceive young people are at risk, when unhappiness or disconnection tips over and becomes a mental illness, who we can talk to and how we raise awareness of the very real risks of mental illness without creating a legion of worried well, are important questions to keep at the front of mind. Over the years we have invested time and energy talking with your sons about how to manage their mental health, when poor mental health becomes mental illness, that being unhappy or sad or lonely is normal, who they can talk to if they are concerned, and what are some of the signs to watch out for, and hopefully this will inoculate them against the worst effects of the uncertainty and disconnection that is an inevitable aspect of lockdown.

The starting point for us is that it is both predictable and natural that as human beings we experience a full range of feelings. As adults, we have the life experience to know that life comes in seasons, and we ought not be surprised that there are times when we are sad or unhappy or anxious.  Life is not always simple, and no-one can be happy all the time because we are powerless to make the world conform to our desires. And that is a very good thing, because that is how we learn to be resilient. Just as steel is tempered by fire, so we are made stronger by the challenges we overcome. How we learn to cope with the vicissitudes of life; the unfairness, the disappointment, the tragedy, and the frustration is important, because the alternative is just to give up.

We are committed to helping you help your sons to grow to become resilient, empathetic men, and the measure of your parenting, and our education and support, is not likely to be seen for some years, and probably not until they are husbands, partners and fathers themselves. For that reason, we talk frequently with him about resilience and help-seeking, qualities that are not only important, but also essential, and that we become stronger and more resilient if we avoid catastrophising difficult life events, like lockdown, into insurmountable obstacles. It is also mature and sensible to seek help when we need it.

A caveat – At Trinity, we take the welfare and wellbeing of the boys at the School very seriously. Mental illness is as real as any diagnosed physical illness and must be treated and taken seriously. Our psychologists are always prepared to provide diagnostic and therapeutic support, even during lockdown, through direct support during school hours, but also in providing advice and access to external mental health services and professionals.

Bradley Barr | Deputy Head Master – Summer Hill


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