ISA promotes mental health and wellbeing for young people in new initiative for North-East schools

Louise Martin, the Mindful Professional, is running the course focused on student wellbeing at ISA

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INTERNATIONAL School Aberdeen (ISA) is offering a new course focused on mental wellbeing to equip students with an ’emotional toolkit’ to cope with stress and anxiety.

The (MBLC-YA) Mindfulness Based Living for Young Adults course is the first of its kind for North-East schools and will teach students how to manage stress and boost self-esteem to become more confident, happier and fulfilled individuals.

The 10-week course is designed and accredited by the UK’s Mindfulness Association and delivered by British Association of Mindfulness-based Approaches (BAMBA) Accredited teacher, Louise Martin.  Students from Grade 5 to Grade 12 (ages 10 to 17), have signed up to take part.

The Learning Support team at ISA have been instrumental in bringing the course to ISA.

Nick Little, Head of School, ISA, said the school is delighted to be offering the course during a time when post-lockdown anxiety is high and confidence is low amongst many young people.

He commented: “We want to ensure our students are offered strategies that allow them to regulate their feelings and manage their emotions during times of stress and worry. It can be difficult for children and young adults to self-regulate and by offering this dedicated course, we aim to give them the tools they need to build resilience. The inclusive course welcomes all students and allows our young people to form a supportive team.”

Jo Lockhart, who runs the ISA Student Wellbeing Club, believes prioritising mental health is a vital life skill, and said: “I have always embedded mindfulness activities in my classes. Healthy mental wellbeing is vital if students are to learn. This course will put them back in control of their emotions and teach them valuable life skills that can be carried into adulthood.”

Mindfulness is a scientifically-based approach to developing focused attention and emotional regulation. Studies find that learning mindfulness benefits students in terms of improved attention, emotion regulation, behaviour in school, empathy and understanding of others, social skills, test anxiety, and stress. Mindfulness allows for a pause during which thoughtful responses can replace impulsive reactions. 

Coach, trainer and BAMBA accredited mindfulness teacher, Louise Martin, who runs The Mindful Professional, has over 20 years’ experience in the health industry and runs similar courses for adults across the North-East. 

Working with ISA students is the first time Louise has worked with pre-teens and teenagers. She commented: “The Mindfulness for Young Adults course aims to be a lifeline for young people who need a calm, quiet, trusted space to learn the skills required to cope when life gets tough.”

“By using calming techniques such as breathing exercises to lower blood pressure and visualisation activities, I put students back in control and show them how to have an easier time with life, increase their self-awareness and enhance self-kindness and resilience.”

Students who complete the course receive a certificate of course completion, a manual and a Mindfulness phone app.

The Mindfulness for Young Adults course is running simultaneously to a new pilot curriculum for ISA’s Grade 1 (Primary 2) students, called the ‘The Zones of Regulation’, designed to help children develop skills to support emotional self-regulation. 

The curriculum splits the Zones of Regulation into four colours – blue, green, yellow, and red.  These colours are used to help children self-identify how they are feeling and categorise it based on colour. By doing so, students can better understand their emotions, sensory needs, thinking patterns and how our own emotions can have an impact on other people’s emotions too.

In 2021, ISA reached the finals of the prestigious Independent Schools of the Year Awards in the Student Wellbeing category in recognition of its efforts to place wellbeing at the heart of its student-centred approach.

As Scotland’s first international school, ISA educates children from age 3 to 18. The school has a student population of almost 500 pupils with half of those coming from the UK and the other 50% comprised of 45 different nationalities.

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