Social Sense achieves positive impacts in Halton with it’s Mindful Me programme

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Social Sense recently concluded a successful 12 months project with local secondary schools in Halton, addressing emotional health and wellbeing needs.

Halton Council commissioned Social Sense’s Mindful Me Programme across 7 secondary schools, during the academic year 2016/17. The programme officially commenced in November 2016.

HAlton

The chosen schools were:

  1. Ormiston Bolingbroke Academy
  2. Ormiston Chadwick Academy
  3. Saints Peter and Paul Catholic College
  4. St Chad’s Catholic and Church of England High School
  5. The Bridge School (PRU)
  6. The Grange School
  7. The Heath School

All year 8 & 9 pupils were invited to take part in 2 one-hour interactive workshops; an Introduction to Mindfulness followed by a Fusion® Mind Management Group Session.

Staff were also encouraged to participate in the sessions along with the pupils to act as positive role models, and the Lead Co-Ordinator at each school was provided with a Teacher’s Manual. This outlined the activities and techniques learnt, and suggested ideas for implementing them across the school.

Why was it funded?

The Public Health team in Halton were aware of the benefits of mindfulness in helping individuals to improve their emotional health and wellbeing, and therefore decided to commission a Mindfulness programme in the academic year 2015/16.

The programme was then recommissioned for the following academic year. To achieve sustainability Social Sense carried out further embedding work and staff training during the project.

Outcomes of the 2015/2016 project included:

  • A positive 50% uplift in mood, with scores increasing on average from 5.0 to 7.5.
  • 55% of students said that they ‘have used ‘or ‘intend to use’ some of the techniques they learned.

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The 2016/2017 project

The project started with all the schools completing a 15-20-minute baseline survey to assess their emotional wellbeing and levels of distress. Developed using Warwick Edinburgh and ONS standards, the questions cover a range of topics including levels of happiness, anxiety, self-harm, resilience and personal relationships.

Key findings from the baseline survey included:

  • 78% of pupils said they had felt worried within the last week.
  • 13% had self-harmed.1
  • 37% said they feel they are able to recover quickly from difficulties in life.

1 The national self-harm average is 13% as found by Self harm UK (2017) https://www.selfharm.co.uk/get/facts/self-harm_statistics/.

The first session introduced pupils to mindfulness, which is simply paying attention to the present moment in a compassionate and non-judgmental way. Pupils learnt useful tools and techniques to help them reduce stress and anxiety, and create happiness using the latest findings in neuroscience known as ‘hardwiring for happiness.’

The Fusion® Mind Management Group Session taught pupils how to manage difficult emotions such as anxiety, sadness, and anger by educating them on the rational and emotional sides of the brain. Developed by BACP accredited expert psychotherapist Frances Masters, the Fusion® model represents a new solution-focused model of support which combines the best of counselling and life coaching

Following the group sessions, a 2-hour training session was offered to 3 members of staff from each school to introduce them to the techniques covered and ideas for embedding these across their schools.

Social Sense delivered an embedding session in 5 schools in May 2017. This involved the Lead Coordinator creating an action plan for implementing the techniques with a Mindful Me Embedding Coach to adopt a whole school approach to emotional health and wellbeing as recommended by PHE, DFE and NICE. Remote support was also provided following each embedding meeting.

A 2.5-hour training session was delivered to 15 members of council staff on 2nd May 2017. This aimed to inform attendees about the project and offer useful tips and techniques for managing their own emotional wellbeing

It was then time for the same cohort to complete a second survey to measure any change in mood. The results were astounding!

Across all questions, there were positive improvements made:

Group Sessions Results

From a sample of 137 feedback forms from 2 schools, on the day feedback showed the following outcomes:

  • 47% increase in mood following the Introduction to Mindfulness Group Session.
  • 45% increase in confidence to manage mood following the Fusion® Group Session.
  • 90% of pupils said they will use the STOP system™.
  • 16% said they will use the STOP system™ every day.
  • 92% of pupils found the Fusion® Group Session helpful.

Overall it would appear from on the day feedback that the Mindful Me sessions were well received by schools and teachers alike, with 92% of young people saying they found the Fusion sessions helpful and 90% saying that they intended to use the techniques (STOP in particular).

Halton Council

By Reece Hobson

 

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