The mental health of all our students and staff at Ellesmere College is one of our top pastoral priorities - from boarders to day pupils, elite athletes to staff - it is vital that we are able to support the mental health needs of the College community with a robust and clear support system.
MHESS - Mental Health at Ellesmere Support System (MHESS) - is a student led initiative by Year 13 student Elin Jones, a team of Sixth Formers and Alex Murphy, Director of Rugby at the College, which focuses on helping students recognise the signs of the detrimental effects to their health and wellbeing, and how and where to access help and support to address any issues.
Elin Jones (left) & Alex Murphy (right)
Mr Murphy said: "The scheme is up and running and raising awareness about general mental health and wellbeing for students, as well as the problems associated with the tighter restrictions students are facing during these unprecedented times of Covid. People often find it difficult to identify and discuss things which are worrying them but it's good to talk - and that is one of the most important messages we need to get across. One of the other problems that young people experience is knowing where to go when dealing with these difficult thoughts and emotions. We are in the process of creating a multi-layered support structure with lots of options for our pupils. Having a student support team provides an approachable source of guidance for students that acts as a nice stepping stone between pupils and staff. It's not difficult to understand the risks to mental health - something which can creep up on you without being aware of it, which is what prompted the launch of the scheme."
He said: "We have been living with this terrible virus for many months and there doesn't look like being an end to it any time soon. It means having to adhere to rules which can have a debilitating effect on health and wellbeing. Problems can arise in several ways, including anxiety, stress and depression so we must do everything we can to safeguard the health of our students. The support system will monitor, help and advise while raising awareness of the risks to people who are having to deal with every day issues as well as the increased isolation we are all facing at this time. The idea behind the scheme was put forward by Elin and our Sixth Formers who felt that as well as supporting students with their overall mental health and wellbeing, it was also a safety net system in place to avoid a potentially bad situation from becoming much worse. The fact that Ellesmere College has invested in the training of over 30 pupils and staff, only goes to show how seriously we take the emotional wellbeing of our pupils."
"Training students places them in the ideal position to understand the problems and issues faced by their fellow students and offer guidance in helping them seek help and support in maintaining health and welfare."
The team of Student Counsellors consists of both Lower and Upper Sixth Form students who have all been trained to help students as their first point of contact. Many students find it easier to talk to another student about issues facing them - particularly at their age - and the Student Counsellor can then support the student in making the decision on the next steps as necessary.
MHESS Student Counsellor Team 2020-2021