From the Deputy Head Master – Summer HillLucas Thurston
This term’s Life Skills Programme in Middle and Senior School will focus on wellbeing and psychoeducation and uses the springboard of September’s annual RU OK? day to provide a focus on help-seeking, peer to peer support, and the things we can do to improve our wellbeing. The programme is also focussed on normalising a variety of emotions so that sadness, disappointment, or anxiousness that do not fall into the clinical or diagnostic range are not mistaken for poor mental health. I have written often that we do our young people a disservice if we over-diagnose and pathologise normal human emotions and create a legion of worried well, but always with the caveat that chronic mental illness is no less serious than physical illness, and that the support of teachers, parents and mental health professionals means we can be confident that poor mental health is treatable.
That caveat includes our belief that, notwithstanding our desire to encourage resilience, mental illness must be treated and taken seriously. Our experienced Trinity Counselling & Psychological Service Team is available to assess, and provide diagnostic and therapeutic support, during the school day, and they also provide advice and facilitate access to external mental health services and professionals out of hours and in the holidays. If you are concerned about your son’s mental health, I encourage you to seek advice. Likewise, it is important that your sons also know that there is support available and that help-seeking is a very mature and constructive thing to do.
As part of the introduction to the Life Skills topics, Ms Nero spoke at Middle School Assembly about emotional intelligence in the context of providing a metalanguage to the boys and young men of the Middle School to help them recognise when their friends may need a little support, and that it is okay to ask RU OK? at any time, not just during September. She also shared a graphic that I thought would be good to share with you, as it may provide some grist to the mill for tonight’s dinner table conversation. Of course, your sons are not just miniature adults, and we have to be realistic about the fact that they are likely to be relatively immature emotionally, but I have the view that talking explicitly with young people is one of the best ways to help them grow and mature into the good men we hope they will become.
Next Wednesday evening we are also delighted to be able to invite parents of sons in Year 5 to Year 8 to attend a 6.00pm presentation by Mr Brad Marshall, the self-described ‘Unplugged Psychologist’ and Director of the Screen and Disorder Clinic which treats young people struggling with internet, screen, and gaming addiction. He will provide practical and concrete strategies for the management of your son’s technology diet, and help you help your son find the balance between healthy screen time and problematic overuse. Please note that this event is intended for adults rather than students, and you may register by following the link. Click Here
May I also remind parents of sons in the Middle School that Mr Galluzzo is taking some very well deserved long service leave this term. Ms Nero and Mr Pay will be sharing his role as Acting Deputy Heads of Middle School. If there are matters you would normally bring to Mr Galluzzo’s attention, please feel free to contact Ms Nero or Mr Pay. An email sent to firstname.lastname@example.org will be attended to by one or the other. Mr Galluzzo’s telephone has been diverted so you may continue to call 9581 6159.
Bradley Barr | Deputy Head Master – Summer Hill