Creative approaches to positive young people’s mental well being - RSA

Creative approaches to young people’s mental well being

Fellowship news 1 Comments

  • Education
  • Schools
  • Mental health

Mental Pictures is a project that invites RSA students at Arrow Vale RSA Academy, Church Hill Middle School, Ipsley CE RSA Academy, Whitley Academy and Holyhead School to create a positive mental health campaign to share with their wider school.

Church Hill students created postcards with positive phrases and encouraging messages on, hiding them in library books; pupils who find the postcards in their books, then have to hide it in another book. This was inspired by Frank Warren’s community art project, Postsecret. Holyhead students produced a graphic design artwork based on their mind maps and exploring what a healthy brain looks like.

Artwork above by a Holyhead School student    

Mental Pictures involved RSA Fellow Caroline Coates and Morag Myerscough RDI and Helen Storey RDI, and a RSA Student Design Award winner, Charlotte Lench – as well as The Samaritans.

About 130 students across the 5 schools participated. The project has resulted in unlikely friendships being formed, mental health being discussed more openly in school, as well as new art techniques being explored.


Postcards above by Church Hill Middle School students    

If you would be interested in working with the RSA schools please contact RSAA Programme Manager Georgina Chatfield.

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  • I am 82 years old and spent most of my working life involved in the pastoral care of the young. I became concerned about the mental health of the young during the later 1960s. Previously, working together with children in several schools, I had suggested that we attempt together to work out what our basic needs are. This was the eventual result:

    1. Good, lasting, dependable interpersonal relationships

    2. Good, regular nourishment

    3. Regular, appropriate exercise

    4. Sufficient good quality sleep and rest

    5. Awareness of and protection from everything that threatens life, health and wellbeing

    In the first place, during the discussions that followed, we applied this to our physical health. The discussions were very positive.

    Having become concerned about the issue of mental health I encouraged the young to return to our listed basic needs and to apply them to our mental health. We had discovered together that the human mind could be considered to be a trinity of intellect, emotions and will, a concept that proved to be helpful in our later discussions.

    1. How can the relationships we enjoy with others help our mental health?

    2. How can we nourish our minds? Using our five senses plus our imaginations? Ought we to take care about the mental nourishment we digest? Is there anything that could harm us mentally we would better avoid taking into our minds? I had undertaken two years of research into boredom that persuaded me to define boredom as 'a belly rumble of a hungry mind', so, could regular mental meals prevent boredom?

    3. How can we keep our mental muscles fit? What kind of mental problems might regular mental exercise prevent. How do we demonstrate that our mental muscles are being kept health and fit?

    4. Is resting ourselves mentally a basic need for our minds? Does sufficient good sleep help our mental health? What are the symptoms of mental ill health that result from insufficient sleep? Are we responsible for the quality of sleep we experience?

    5. How aware can we better inform ourselves concerning the varied and numerous threats to our mental health? Is this where good personal relationships will help?

    These any many other questions formed the basis of the discussions I held with schoolchildren. I was caused, unwillingly, to retire at the age of 74. Those creative and positive discussions with the young are what I miss the most, although I am helped by contact with young people I first met as young schoolchildren who became friends. I am also helped by the knowledge that those discussions preventive mental ill health in so many young lives.

    Dr Gordon Bailey FRSA