Like many school first-aiders Cara O’Connell spends her day dishing out plasters and taking temperatures. But health and wellbeing at Sarum Hall School means so much more than that.

Last year, Sarum Hall, the independent preparatory school for girls in Hampstead won an award for healthy eating and its commitment to overall health and wellbeing is clear.

Headmistress Karen Coles explains: “Without good physical and mental health, children cannot learn well. Our number one concern is whether every one of our girls is happy and contented.”

Cara is Health & Wellbeing Co-ordinator at the school and she supports the physical and mental wellbeing of pupils and works to ensure they are equipped with the skills to take good care of themselves. Outdoor learning, healthy eating and exercise are also actively encouraged.

As well as regular staff meetings, the school also uses technology to spot concerning behaviour patterns. There are postal boxes where pupils can discreetly send a message about an area of life they may be struggling with.

Cara says: “We provide spaces outside of classrooms for pupils to find a listening ear, or to reflect on any big emotions. I work with teachers to create opportunities for pupils to improve friendship skills, learn how to respond to tricky emotions and practise speaking out."

Older pupils enjoy mindful activities like yoga. They also work on one of the school’s golden values ‘resilience’ using techniques such as positive affirmations and goal setting.

When asked what advice Cara would extend to a parent concerned for their child’s mental health, she says: “Don’t be afraid to reach out for help from your child’s school or GP – the earlier a person can get help and support, the better chances they will have to lead a happy and healthy life”.

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