On World Mental Health Day (10th October), we are shining a spotlight on the importance of good mental health and how the community at Harrow Hong Kong supports its pupils to become self-aware, resilient, and to the face challenges in their lives with determination.
The World Health Organisation defines mental health as a state of wellbeing in which every individual achieves their potential, copes with the normal stresses of life, works productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to their community.
Mental health affects how we think, feel and ultimately act.
It is vital to develop good mental health in children and young adults. It helps them to grow and thrive, to learn and explore the world, to express and manage their emotions, to form and maintain good relationships with others and to effectively manage change or uncertain situations that they come across in their everyday lives.
Harrow Hong Kong’s Social Vision statement “A caring, respectful community in which everyone thrives” underlines the importance the School places on pastoral care and in nurturing positive and supportive relationships, which are vital towards wellbeing and ensuring good mental health.
How Harrow Hong Kong supports ‘five ways to wellbeing’
Humans are social creatures and need meaningful connections in their lives and to have a sense of belonging.
Our pupils never feel alone at Harrow Hong Kong. A wide pastoral care network, led by House Masters and House Mistresses in the Upper School, and Class Teachers in the Lower School, supports our pupils’ personal wellbeing, and the Houses are essentially family units where pupils find their place, older pupils care for and support the younger ones, and where lifelong connections are formed.
Mealtimes within School are device-free social occasions which further strengthen these ‘family’ connections and provide valuable face to face discussion time between both pupils and staff.
- Be active
It is well documented that physical activity, whether it be as simple as a walk or something more competitive, provides positive health benefits, both physically and mentally.
Sport is an integral part of a Harrow Hong Kong experience, and the School offers a huge range of sporting activities and clubs for those who want to participate right through to those who want to compete at the top of their game. Not only does sport promote a healthy lifestyle, but it also builds and strengthens connections and promotes teamwork, resilience and problem-solving.
- Keep learning
A key aim at Harrow Hong Kong is to develop a lifelong love of learning, whether academically or learning about the world at large.
The School’s extensive Co-Curricular programme, Harrow Horizons, offers over 250 different opportunities and challenges through Music, Sport, Art, Drama, Charity, Service and beyond. No matter what a pupil’s passions are, whether they have yet to be discovered, they will find something of interest to engage with and allow them to grow.
It feels good when we give, whether giving kindness, time, money or expertise.
Harrow Hong Kong provides pupils with many opportunities to work selflessly for the betterment of others, to nurture compassionate leaders. There is an expectation that pupils demonstrate a willingness to give their time and effort to benefit another individual or group, without expectation of reward or return. Indeed, ‘Contributing positively to the community’ is one of Harrow Hong Kong’s six Leadership Attributes.
Houses support and fundraise for pupil-nominated charities each year, with two of our Senior Houses (Wu and Shaftesbury) currently supporting Mind HK’s work to promote good mental health across Hong Kong.
- Take Notice
Being present and in the moment helps to create space between the emotions we have and the actions we use to respond to them. When you notice what is happening around you, you focus more deeply, it can help you to calm down when you’re sad, angry or frustrated.
Dr Reena Gogna, Consultant School Psychologist at Harrow Hong Kong, says: “The most important thing you can learn towards establishing positive mental health is the value of self-care.
“Self-care is prioritising your needs to maintain a healthy outlook. With the busy School days and endless commitments, self-care has never been more important. Work out what self-care is for you, and make it a priority on a regular basis. This might be going for a hike, using the gym, reading a book, for example.
“We are living in a world where we are putting ourselves under tremendous pressure to do better and to be better and this creates a lot of unnecessary stress. We need to learn that regardless of how much we know, how much we will continue to learn, when you are striving for unattainable standards, you will never feel satisfied. We need to learn to be at peace with ourselves, to see our imperfections as a good thing because they teach us how to be resilient and to understand that mistakes are critical life lessons. The more we can be at peace with ourselves, to accept that we have done the best we can, the more we actually grow which encourages success in all sorts of ways.”
Dr Gogna’s Parenting for Success programme offers a series of workshops and seminars for current and prospective Harrow Hong Kong parents aimed at providing tips and tools for nurturing wellbeing and developing resilience in children. Click here for more information on upcoming talks.