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Badge of honour

Schools

A colourful badge on their blazers is a daily reminder for students at Blackfriars Priory School that their mental health is important – and there is plenty of support available if they need help.

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Earlier this year the Year 12 prefects reflected on how the pressures of performing well at school combined with the difficulties faced during adolescence impacted a student’s mental health. Add into the mix a predisposition for boys to ‘bottle up’ their emotions and the leadership group agreed that the mental wellbeing of students would be the focus for their work during 2019.

As a way to raise awareness about mental health with all year levels, the prefects organised a school-wide competition to design a badge to be worn by students.

As head prefect Declan Fitch-Woolford and prefects Alex Hunter and Christian Jones told The Southern Cross, there was a great response to the initiative and after much consideration the artwork by Year 5 student Jermaine Zaharis was selected as the winning submission. His design represents the different aspects of what comprises good mental health, such as family, friends and meditation.

The winning design.

Jermaine Zaharis

At the start of Term 3 each boy at the school was presented with a badge featuring Jermaine’s design, to be worn as a constant reminder of the importance of mental health.

“The badge brings mental health to the forefront of everyone’s minds,” said Alex.

Declan added that by wearing the badge on their uniform it provided a “symbol” that everyone at the school was “on board” with the mental health program.

“At Blackfriars we are very proud to have a strong bond with all of our students…we’re very close as a whole school and individual cohorts, looking out for each other and having the conversation,” he said.

By raising awareness about their mental wellbeing, students are being encouraged to implement several practices such as taking time to ‘consider and reflect’, and embracing the 10-minute meditation session at the start of Lesson 6 each day.

“This session helps to calm a lot of the students down after lunch and helps them focus on their school work. It also gives them time to reflect not only on their school day but events happening in their life,” explained Christian.

The prefects said since beginning the program focusing on mental health it was noticeable that more boys were happy to speak out and share their emotions.

“The idea of breaking the stigma that ‘boys are tough and they shouldn’t let their emotions out’ is starting to flourish,” Declan said.

Besides producing the badge, the school is also promoting mental health through posters and having guest speakers at assemblies.

National R U OK Day? is on Thursday September 12. For more information go to www.ruok.org.au

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