Depression is the leading cause of death in men under 50 which is a statistic that should not be true; we need to start the conversation about mental health, and normalise it, in order to keep our friends, family, and loved ones safe.
In light of this, 12 of us IB pupils as part of our CAS Project (Creativity, Action, Service), decided to organise an all all-encompassing day to raise awareness and money for mental health, hence the creation of Mental Health Awareness Day (MHAD).
What really made the day was the happiness shared by the pupils; everyone was laughing, smiling, and enjoying themselves.
As well as raising awareness about mental health issues, the day also aimed to put into practice ways of promoting positive mental health, such as listening to music, spending time with others, doing exercise, eating well, and helping people. The charity we supported was the Charlie Waller Memorial Trust (CWMT) which aims to equip young people to look after their mental wellbeing and talk openly about depression.
The Early Morning Walk was the first event of the day where nearly two thirds of the College congregated at 6:45am on Hill 2 and Major to begin a walk around the grounds. The intention of this was to show fortitude in the face of mental illness, and the overwhelming turnout from all year groups really brought the walk to life – #beautifulbradfield was the ideal platform for this movement and the perfect start to our MHAD.
After the walk and a refreshing breakfast, Years 9 and 10 were treated to a lecture from Mrs Rae on mindfulness and the need to stop and reflect on what is going on around us. She gave each pupil a raisin and did a ‘mindfulness eating’ exercise where the pupils took the time to really appreciate what they were doing instead of moving on to the next thing on their ‘to do’ list.
Break time welcomed an array of scrumptious fresh bakes made by Bradfield staff and pupils. The purpose of the bake sale was to show that through baking, treating ourselves, and being together we can further better our mental health. We also managed to raise a sizeable sum of money for CWMT.
We need to start the conversation about mental health, and normalise it, in order to keep our friends, family, and loved ones safe.
External speaker Rachel Egan then spoke to the Lower Sixth about her struggle with and ongoing recovery from depression, anorexia and anxiety. Her talk was inspirational and many pupils were visibly moved and amazed by some of the topics discussed and found the experience very eye opening. She gave tips for how to deal with a friend who is suffering from an eating disorder like “don’t tell them how much healthier they are, because in their minds you are telling them they are fat.”
The inter-House spirit was fired up with benchball followed by the Colour Run. The clouds of colour that flooded the air were really breath taking and were a positive reminder that bright colours coupled with exercise can really lift the spirit. It was a really great experience, and everyone seemed very happy with a great sense of collaboration and school spirit.
The day ended with a concert in the beautiful Greek Theatre. With everything from jazz to electric violins, the evening was perfect from start to finish. All of the performers put their heart and soul into their performances and their hard work really paid off.
Whilst the events themselves were brilliant, what really made the day was the happiness shared by the pupils; everyone was laughing, smiling, and enjoying themselves. We hope that MHAD becomes a tradition that Bradfield will continue for many years; it is so important to show adversity in the face of mental health issues and to try to remove the stigma around them.