TG Escapes Blog

Mental Health Champion for Schools

by Robyn Fletcher | Sep 16, 2015 | Blog, Education

One of the first tangible actions undertaken by the Department for Education this new school year, has been its appointment of a mental health champion for schools, Natasha Devon, MBE. She is to spearhead a campaign to raise awareness of, and reduce the stigma around, young people’s mental health which is in a sorry state.

As she points out: “According to the charity Young Minds, in an average classroom, three pupils have a diagnosed mental illness and millions more are battling conditions for which they have not sought help. The burgeoning crises in mental and physical wellbeing not only affects young people’s health and happiness, it also has a tangible impact on their potential.”

The physical and emotional well-being of school children is a subject that the Learning Escape take very seriously. We are delighted to see that the government is committing to improving the mental health of young people and applaud the DfE’s plans to promote greater awareness of the issue and provide a better level of counselling support for those suffering from mental health problems. However, we believe that the right teaching environment and a generous exposure to the good old Great Outdoors can make a significant contribution to the mental well-being of students.

A fundamental philosophy of the Learning Escape is that exposure to, and experience of, the natural environment has a significant and positive impact upon children’s physical development, emotional health and mental well-being. Our view is supported by a growing body of evidence that demonstrates that contact with, or even simply looking at, natural spaces has a profound effect on our state of mind.

Contact with nature has been proven to result in recovery from stress and attention fatigue, whilst being outside has been shown to significantly improve self-esteem, self-confidence and social interactivity, particularly for those children with learning difficulties.

Looking at children more generally, playing in a natural environment has a demonstrable impact both upon their physical health and their socio-economic development (whilst exposure to sunlight is good for us all, whatever our age!) Being outside allows children to test their boundaries and take risks; generates a sense of freedom and adventure and teaches them important lessons in how to interact with other people. What is more, engagement with nature is known to improve discipline and concentration.

Our eco-classrooms are designed to maximise the penetration of natural light into the learning space whilst pupils are inside, whilst simultaneously nurturing an affinity with, and a desire to be in, the outside, natural world. In the words of a recent, happy customer:

“The lovely view outside really appeals to all the senses. It’s such a calming environment and I have noticed that the students are much calmer and more engaged.”

About the author

Robyn Fletcher
Robyn has been with TGEscapes for 8 years working in various areas of the company including sales, administration, marketing and customer service with a particular interest in social media. She has trained in business and administration, as well as working for a short time in insurance. Robyn has grown up and lives in rural Herefordshire, she is the mother of a lovely 6 year old boy and has an interest in all things environmental.

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