Collation of YNCB/FLARE for Schools Wellbeing Partnership

To mark the launch of the Schools Wellbeing Partnership, children and young people who take part in our Young NCB and FLARE participation groups shared their thoughts on the mental health challenges young people face in 2021.

“Going back in March now seems like a very distant memory, a lot has happened over the past few months as we have, again, adjusted to the new normal of going to school every day and seeing people, again.

The introduction of masks in classrooms was definitely something that was interesting to need to adjust to, and to wear a mask for six hours a day at a time, was again something we just had to get used to, because I think we all understood at the back of our brains that in order for us to achieve a level of normality, we all had to do our part, and if it meant wearing a mask for that long, then we needed to do that. 

The thing we definitely took for granted was being with each other within a distance less than a metre, and over lockdown, seeing people became almost impossible. Going back to school meant that finally, we could see our friends again, and be able to chat with each other face to face, without the constraints of social distancing and the rule of six, necessarily. 

Going forward I think there’s needs to a further focus on the importance of the upkeep of our own mental health, and in that sense, schools, colleges and decision makers need to do all in their power to prioritise the mental health of their students, before saying that we need to speed through the curriculum to catch up, because lockdown was difficult for a lot of students: learning can be caught up, deteriorating mental health cannot necessarily.”

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My teachers have been the biggest reason I've settled back into college life so well. They often don't know much more than we do, especially with regards to exams, but just knowing they're there, and the support they've been offering has been unbelievable. They have worked tirelessly at nights and weekends, to mark extra essays, to answer panicked questions, or to even just listen to you rant about your fears, worries, hopes or dreams for the future.

The pandemic has brought us all closer together. I really don't know where I'd be without my teachers this year, and their willingness to be open and simply talk to you, is so simple yet so overwhelmingly helpful, especially during such a challenging time. As someone doing their exams this year, after numerous changes in our plans and education as a whole, it is my teachers who I owe my positive memories of my time at college to. Since being back, it seems everyone else or everything else has been uncertain and inconsistent, but my teachers have stuck by me, even if they also often didn't have all the answers, and that has really meant the world.”

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My experience since March is a bit different to everyone else because I didn’t go back physically. But for what it might be worth here is my thought:

Since the schools went back in March I have benefitted from being included online in live lessons with my peers.  Having provided online lessons during the January lockdown my teachers were able to work the technology and could at last include me.”

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The one key thing that has made the most difference to me at school since March is the fact that we’re not now allowed on college grounds when we don’t have a lesson, in comparison to before the pandemic, when we could sit with our friends and revise together or even go out together after lessons. It’s been really tough as it’s meant that I’m isolated from my friends who aren’t in my lessons and has meant that I’m less able to receive support and a sense of comradery from them or have people to talk to when things get tough as it’s harder to do this on social media and you don’t get a chance to develop your friendships further. Although I’m happy to see them all again and it’s better than being online or not seeing them at all, it’s been quite difficult, especially during exam season as your friends are often one of the driving forces to help you through it.”

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“In my school they have let us spend time with our friends catching up and also we are doing lots of projects together like making films, drama. my teachers and my assistants spend lots of time with us and they ask us about all the things we care about and make us laugh a lot. I went to school in lockdown but lots of my friends didn't so they like seeing the chickens and the therapy dog again because they missed him.”

Find out more about Young NCB and FLARE.