Written by Bea and Helena, Year 9
On the Thursday before half term, Year 9 had a day full of activities, designed to enhance our wellbeing, as well as giving us a break from revision for exams. The day started with a talk from ex-royal navy police officer, Barry, talking about his experiences regarding drugs and alcohol. He gave us tips about how to slowly bring alcohol into our lives, with the consent of our parents and also warned us about the devastation and irreversible damage that alcohol and drugs can have on your life.
After that, we had a dancing session with our enthusiastic instructor, Daniel. We learnt a couple of dance routines to songs like Up by Cardi B (the clean version!). It definitely cheered us all up. The energy that he brought was infectious! The whole of our group had a great time, forgetting about the exams and enjoying ourselves.
Next, we had a talk about alcohol from Bob, who was also an ex-royal navy police officer. We learnt a great amount about the different ages you can start drinking from and had a discussion about some of the laws. We then did mindfulness exercises with a counsellor. She told us to stay positive, and talked about using the ‘worry filter’ – where you are meant to let the worries that you can do nothing about leave your mind. We looked at some different scenarios and talked about how we would manage them in our minds. The day finished with a discussion of risky behavior, talking about how to avoid spiked drinks and dangerous situations.
There were some real positives to the wellbeing day. I think that all of the year could agree that the dance was an amazing experience, and definitely our favourite. The fact that our school has given us information to arm ourselves is very important; we must make sure that we are always aware of the facts going into a new situation.
However, we do have some points that refer to the improvements of the wellbeing, drug, alcohol and risky behaviour workshops.
We had many talks on drugs and alcohol, as well as risky behaviour and they took up almost a whole day. I think it is a good idea to educate children about the effects of taking drugs and alcohol. Despite this, there were some things that we think could be improved about this aspect of the day. We listened to around three hours of talks, mainly on alcohol and drugs. These talks contained useful information – like how drugs can be detrimental to our health, and that we should be weary of alcohol and drugs mixed.
Now to address the mental wellbeing section. Oxford High School is known to be a very prestigious and academic school. I have found, from my time at OHS, that the fuel of the students’ hard work comes mainly from their, or parents’, desire to achieve more or be the best. Notice how more is undefined, and there always seems to be more that could have been achieved. We have both had this experience and are trying to eradicate it for fear that it will limit us. This want to improve, called perfectionism, can be positive if it fuels hard work, but negative if it leads to self-hatred when something is not achieved. While it may fuel high achievements for a while, it often leads to burnout and depression, as well as anxiety. This is increased tenfold when around other people feeling the same way. 20% of teenagers experience depression before adulthood (see below for source), and I think perfectionism plays a large part in this. We believe that going through a workbook that uses scientifically proven methods – such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) – to tackle perfectionism, would have greatly helped many people. This could be continued in PSHCE lessons, so that using logic to counter feelings of never being good enough becomes second nature.
Overall, the idea of a wellbeing day is exceptional. The fact that our school cares so much about our welfare that they are willing to dedicate a day to improve it is beyond amazing. With these changes, the students at Oxford High School will be able to reach their full potential, thanks to the teachers that have helped them overcome obstacles in not just education, but in their mental and physical wellbeing.