Mental Health Initiatives in Boarding
Trusting relationships are the starting point and destination for everything in boarding, especially in supporting mental health. Two recent initiatives are helping us to do that with boarders at Lancaster Royal Grammar School.
The first has been working with Lancaster University to develop a bespoke boarding PSHE programme. We wanted a structured way to support boarders’ discussions on issues in their lives. Lecturers from a range of backgrounds have visited to lead activities. Some are directly focussed on promoting positive mental health, such as well-being and sleeping habits. Others shine a light on contemporary themes as diverse as cybersecurity, masculinity and the environment. It’s good to talk, and those conversations are generating excellent engagement.
Alongside this, we have introduced the GoVox well-being app with all our boarders. The app posts a monthly survey as an opportunity to reflect on positives and negatives over the last few weeks. It asks about all aspects of well-being, from school life to relationships and self-confidence.
If pupils respond to a question with neutral or negative responses they are sent helpful advice on that theme, such as anxiety about workload. GoVox also flags negative answers to school staff who will have a quiet chat or keep an extra eye out.
“Happiness scores” are visible so that staff can see any changes and intervene if needed. Another question simply asks whether pupils want someone to reach out to them to talk.
Staff tell us that this is working, in a very practical way. They have had conversations where they previously wouldn't have known about an issue. One of the pastoral team said, “These have all been around relatively low-level issues, but that's the whole point. Let’s fix the issues early on, so we won't have the more serious issues, and certainly not as surprises.”