Brampton College student writes mental health guide

The guide has been put together by 16-year-old Sophie Lunzer from Golders Green, following analysis by the mental health charity YoungMinds that she read revealing NHS data on schoolchildren “in mental health crisis” reaching record levels.

Urgent referrals of under-18s reached 3,500 this time last year — three times higher than before the pandemic, the charity found.

But Hendon’s Brampton College, which Sophie attends, is facing the crisis head on by staging an event on June 26 where the lower sixth are off timetable for holistic activities, with the launch of her manual now distributed to all its students.

“Psychology and mental health education are my passion,” Sophie explained. “I hope that sharing the things I’ve learned can help maybe even just one person who is struggling, maybe finding something that makes good mental health just a little bit easier as an A-level or GCSE student.”

Her booklet with ideas from classmate Ava Grossman lists people available at the college to talk to such as class tutors, school counsellor, welfare and safeguarding officers, with contact details and where to find them.

“The section that’s my personal favourite has tools to help cope with stress,” Sophie added. “It has 21 strategies, such as a ‘reality check-list’ about yourself and the world around you, changing your temperature by dunking your face into a bowl of ice water or creating your own wall of Post-it notes with quotes that inspire you.”

Sophie’s guide also shows what to do if a friend is struggling, with warning signs to look out for and how to start a conversation with them, or going to a trusted adult at the college if the friend might be at risk.

“But most important it’s about reducing the stigma of mental health,” Sophie insists. “It’s about stopping mental health terms used incorrectly in conversation.”

The launch of her guide is tied in with the June 26 Brampton College mental health day. The school assembly is about climate change, with samples of ethically-sourced food and someone from Vogue magazine talking about upcycling clothing with a seamstress to demonstrate how to do it.

Milton Keynes footballer Layla O’Brian is a guest at lunchtime, showing girls how she got over her injuries on the field.

There is also a talk on sexual health, football at nearby Middlesex University, an arts workshop, self-defence class and a session with pupils handling cute furry animals such as a rabbit, guinea pig, ferret and hedgehog.

Also planned is mobility training with a Chelsea Women’s football coach and a pilates session.

Sophie’s Brampton College Wellbeing Guide, meanwhile, has been released to students and staff on Google Classroom. Paper copies were handed out at a ‘fidget toy and bake sale’ held last month at the school in Lodge Road.

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