Cygnet Hospital Sheffield teams up with Sheffield Wednesday to deliver mental health sessions

Staff at Cygnet Hospital Sheffield have teamed up with Sheffield Wednesday Football Club to visit Oasis Academy Watermead, in Southey, to highlight the impact sport and physical activity can have on mental health and to support young people through the stress of exam season.

Phoenix School is the education provider for all young people admitted to Cygnet Hospital Sheffield. Amy White, PSHE Teacher, and Ed Hall, Head of Education for Cygnet Health Care, explored with the school children the various ways in which your mental health can be improved by keeping on top of your fitness, including increased self-esteem, confidence and resilience.

Amy said: “At Cygnet, we recognise the importance of incorporating physical activity in our daily lives and how this can have a positive effect on our mental wellbeing.”

Cygnet has previously worked with other sports clubs including the Rotherham Titans and the Sheffield Sharks to deliver important mental health sessions to young people.

Cygnet offers services for individuals with mental health needs, learning disabilities and autism. Cygnet Schools operate within its Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services and aim to provide equal access to high quality education for all children and young people with mental health needs, keeping education alive in the pupils’ lives, maintaining progress and enabling them to achieve their potential whilst in hospital.

Amy added: “By the very nature of our work at Cygnet, we see many young people who are struggling with their mental health and need specialist support. We know that having an active body can help keep a healthy mind and we want to reinforce this at an early age so all young persons get the opportunity to lead healthy, safe, lives.”

Sheffield Wednesday FC Community Programme is the football club’s charitable arm, which supports the development of cohesive community provision in the wider Sheffield area. One of the coordinators, Jacob Walkland, felt like this would be a great addition to what they already offer schools in Sheffield.

Amy explained: “The school were keen for us to deliver a series of sessions rather than just a one-off, as there was a group of young people who really needed our support. The SATs were coming up and some of them had told her their worries. Jacob and I decided that we would run two hour sessions which would consist of an hour in the classroom and an hour doing physical activity, whether it was football or active games.. Sport is such a powerful way to relieve stress, we felt it had to be included each time we visited the school. Twelve young people were selected to attend the sessions and it was striking to hear from them how stressed they were about their SATs exams. They definitely needed some strategies and guidance from us.”

The first session focused on the concept of stress including what causes it and the symptoms it produces.

Amy added: “Young people need to be able to identify it in their body and mind. Parts of this session were created collaboratively with Cygnet Hospital Sheffield’s multidisciplinary team which made it very effective.”

Other topics covered included gaining perspective, mindfulness, meditation, quality sleep and the importance of sport and keeping physically active.

At the end of the series of sessions, all students had their preferred strategy to reduce their stress.

Feedback from the students was overwhelmingly positive, with many saying they would put the relaxation techniques, including meditation, into practice when they feel stresses, and that having a different perspective would enable them to stay calm and confident.

One student said: “I was really stressed about the SATs and other things going on in my life and these sessions are helping a lot. I have learnt to do things to take my mind off stress and have been doing lots of things outside of school.”

Another added: “I was really struggling a few weeks ago and I am still struggling now and again. I find these sessions useful though, especially when we get out and do something active as it makes me feel better about things. I will try and do some active things in the week of SATs to make me feel good.”

Amy said receiving feedback like this was really pleasing.

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