“I learnt that the distant feeling I had over lockdown was actually loneliness”

World Mental Health Day is on Sunday 10th October. After 18 months of intermittent and uncertain schooling, as well as cancelled youth groups, events, and routines, it is not surprising that 80% of young people believe that the Covid-19 pandemic made their mental health ‘worse’ or ‘much worse’. The issue of how to improve and sustain good mental health is long overdue coverage in schools – and that’s where Saltmine steps in.

Recognising that it is a difficult and complex subject for teachers to cover as part of the curriculum, we decided to craft a series of resources to act as a starting point. Across three short films, we followed Alice navigating the surreal world of Wonderland as an allegory for exploring different pressures young people might be faced with whilst forming their own sense of self – including anxiety, loneliness, and social media. Taking consultation from mental health professionals, we accompanied these films with workshops offering opportunities for personal reflection, discussion, and practical tips on how to look after your mind.

Initially designed as a digital resource, we were able to deliver these workshops in-person for the first time in June 2021. Being able to facilitate face to face was a real privilege and we collected some very positive feedback from students and teachers, who loved the films. One student particularly remarked that they appreciated how well they “related to real life situations and gave clear helpful advice to resolve various difficulties”. We are able to provide these resources either as a package for teachers to deliver, or in person. With only two facilitators needed, we are able to be more flexible in terms of scheduling and booking requirements than a typical Saltmine schools tour. Through this new model of working, we hope that more young people would “learn about [their] own wellbeing and what [they] can do to improve it…to set goals and be kind to others and myself”.

To see more information about our mental health production, visit: saltminetrust.org.uk/worldmentalhealthday

Emily Feltham