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Lifebox: a toolkit for health and well-being

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Over a thousand Year 1 Long Road students were invited to a special event on 12th December: Lifebox

The event was organised by Andrea Joyce, one of the four Assistant Heads of Study at Long Road Sixth Form College. Andrea says: “Students aged between 16 and 19 face enormous pressures. At this stage in their lives, they have to make key decisions about the future while meeting study deadlines, maintaining relationships and worrying about fitting in with their peer group. I wanted to make our students aware of all the ways they can access help and support to get them through these challenges. I decided they needed a ‘tool-kit’ of information – and that was how Lifebox came about.

“We wanted to make it easier for students to find help when they need it,” adds Andrea, “but we also want to help our students feel able to share their problems rather than hiding them. One in 4 people are affected by mental illness each year.”

Lifebox gave Long Road students a chance to learn how to deal with issues affecting their health and well-being, including depression, anxiety, stress, eating disorders and personal safety. There were talks and activities organised by both external and internal speakers to inform students about the holistic benefits of exercise, nature and healthy eating, and alternative strategies such as meditation, mindfulness and yoga. In addition, there were stalls from a wide range of organisations in the main area of the new College Student Centre.

Talks and activities included:

Dealing with life challenges – anxiety and depression

Talk by Jennie Swain from MIND on the anxiety and depression spectrum, how to recognise signs and symptoms, self-help and where to access support

A positive step – relationship counselling

Professionals from Relate talked about the benefits of counselling for relationship difficulties. There was a role play and discussion.

Relaxation techniques

Practical session led by yoga and relaxation expert Daniella McDermott on how to relax your body and mind if in a stressful situation and how to avoid these situations in the first place.

Well-being and breathing meditation practice

Talk and guided practice by Simone Moore, meditation practitioner with a chance to share impressions after the exercise.

Stress: signs, symptoms and strategies

Workshop led by Long Road Health & Social Care students.

Using mindfulness to boost your brain power

Practical session to discover what mindfulness is and how it can benefit users – led by former nurse, volunteer with Cruse and mindfulness expert Moira Upton.

The holistic benefits of exercise

Talk by Long Road Sports Development Manager Chris Bryden on how regular exercise can aid mental and emotional, as well as physical well-being.

Woodland Walk – the calming effects of nature

Guided walk round the College grounds led by Biology teachers Chris Graham and Paul Andrew.

Practical Yoga session

Led by Long Road Politics teacher and yoga practitioner Philippe Harari – a chance to try out yoga and experience the benefits of this very relaxing exercise.

Eating disorders and mental health

Talk by Zoe Brown, Recovery Coach at Addenbrooke’s Eating Disorders Clinic.

Healthy Eating = Healthy Life

Talk on healthy eating with practical information and a few myth-busters e.g. eat less = lose weight

Risk-taking behaviour

Members of the Cambridge Child and Adolescent Substance Use Service (CASUS) talked about substance use and risk-taking behaviour.

Stalls

MIND – mental health charity

Samaritans – confidential emotional support for people who are experiencing feelings of distress, despair or suicidal thoughts

Cruse Bereavement Care – support, counselling, education, advice and information

Lifecraft – organisation for adults who have experience of mental health difficulties in their lives

Centre33 – Cambridge-based free, confidential service offering young people information and support on any issue

Relate – relationship counselling, family counselling and children & young people’s counselling

CASUS – Cambridgeshire Child and Adolescent Substance Abuse Service

WRVS – charity for older people in the community – provides volunteering opportunities for young people (volunteering being a way to raise self-esteem)

British Heart Foundation – charity that aims to prevent people dying from heart diseases.

B-eat – information and help on all aspects of eating disorders, including Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, binge eating disorder and related eating disorders.

DHIVERSE – promotes sexual health and well-being

Cambridgeshire Search and Rescue – search and recovery of vulnerable missing persons

There were also stalls representing College groups: Academic Support, Enrichment and Sports Development

“Lifebox is the first event in a programme of activities. I am also working with the NHS Mental Health Promotion Scheme on a possible ‘sleep hygiene’ tutorial which will look at ways of helping students recognise the importance of regular and adequate sleep. I will also be carrying out further work with the Cambridgeshire Search and Rescue Service,” adds Andrea.

“This was a fantastic opportunity for our students to experience new ideas, strategies and techniques regarding well-being; to gain access to highly skilled and knowledgeable practitioners/experts and professionals in their field; and finally to equip themselves with skills to tackle life’s challenges and those of the people closest to them.

“We hope that this open approach to the pressures students face will make the next few years easier and happier so that they can leave the College feeling confident and excited about the future.”

For more photos of this event visit http://www.facebook.com/LongRoadSixthFormCollege