Pupil-led mental health conference at Christ’s Hospital a ‘huge success’February 21, 2020
Photo credit: Toby Phillips
Delegates from schools all over the country convened at Christ’s Hospital on 13 February for the School’s first-ever pupil-led Conference, on the topic of Mental Health and Wellbeing. The event was organised by a group of 19 senior pupils at Christ’s Hospital, with minimal help from staff and included a special keynote speaker and workshops run by mental health professionals.
The group decided to take action after they noticed that there are no such mental health/wellbeing conferences being run for the primary benefit of students and young people, although many already existed for teachers and adults. They found this to be deeply concerning, particularly as it is such a topical issue. The conference attracted so much interest that the pupils had to change to a bigger venue; on the day, over 150 attendees travelled to Christ’s Hospital from all over southeast England to represent over 20 independent and state schools.
“The Christ’s Hospital Mental Health Conference was a huge success; each workshop and the plenary panel acted to give a forum through which mental health could be considered, questioned and discussed. The idea to host a pupil-led conference on an increasingly important topic was ambitious, but that ambition indisputably paid off. From the start, we said that the day would be a success if at least one person, whether student, teacher or parent, left feeling more confident to support themselves and even others in wellbeing. Seeing 22 schools together talking and learning about mental health therefore made the day successful in itself. I am incredibly proud to be a part of the Monitor group that organised it,” said Andre Da Silva-Jenkins, head pupil (Senior Monitor) at Christ’s Hospital.
The keynote speaker was Suzi Godson, The Times newspaper’s sex and relationships columnist, award-winning author, blogger and founder of MeeTwo – an app which provides a safe and secure forum for teenagers wanting to discuss any issue affecting their lives where they can receive anonymous help and advice from both mental health experts as well as other teenagers going through similar experiences. Guests also benefited from three separate workshops run by registered mental health professionals and experts from three different charities covering a range of mental health topics. The day concluded with a stimulating, interactive panel discussion, featuring several student representatives across several schools. There was also a brief Q & A session with the keynote speaker and the mental health experts who ran the workshops.
“Thank you to the monitor team at Christs Hospital for organising an incredibly informative and useful conference on mental health today, for schools from across the country,” said Ann Feloy, founder of young suicide prevention charity, Olly’s Future – a participant and contributor to the conference. “It is excellent to see the pupils themselves taking the lead on mental health issues in this way – they are truly inspiring. They show children and young people can lead the conversation on mental wellbeing and health and we should listen.”