Hendon School ‘Stamping out Stigma’ Conference 2018

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By Helen Kehoe & Jennifer Springham
Joint Appointment Lecturers in Mental Health and Practice Development leads,
My Care Academy.

Hendon School hosted their 3rd annual mental health conference held at Middlesex University in June 2018.

The Hendon School SOS Mental Health and Wellbeing Team consist of a team of pupils who have achieved so much to be proud of.  Following the tragic death of their headteacher in 2014 by suicide, some of the pupils began their journey of raising awareness of mental health in many important ways.  After securing a meeting with Barnet CCG, they negotiated funding for Mental Health First Aid training for staff in secondary schools.  The pupils also co-designed the Speak Out Barnet app with students from Middlesex University, with money donated by Barnet, Enfield and Haringey Mental Health Trust. The app was launched in 2017 and provides support and advice to young people with mental health issues. Via the app are access to free helplines and chats, a mood tracker feature and information signposting young people to local mental health services. 

Amongst all this incredible work, they have successfully organised and hosted 3 mental health conferences, held at Hendon School for the first two years and at the Middlesex University Hendon Campus this year.  It was a wonderful atmosphere with over 300 attendees, including inspiring key note speakers Jonny Benjamin MBE and Chrissy B, sharing their experiences of mental illness and their recovery journey.

Lecturers from the Mental Health and Social Work department delivered workshops, and were very proud to be a part of the conference for a second year running.

We both decided to tackle the topic of social media and how it can relate to mental health. With our experiences of working as mental health nurses and in CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services) this area felt relevant and potentially beneficial to our audience. We explored and discussed the pro’s and cons of social media, using interactive and engaging activities which seems to please the mixture of primary/secondary school children and their teachers.  It was no surprise to find that the real experts were the school children. They had a great grasp on how to keep safe online, showing how hard schools are working to educate their pupils in these areas.

In between our workshops we both had the opportunity to sit in the audience of our fellow lecturer’s workshops. Laura Foley and Lawrence Dadzie presented a workshop talking about the importance of embracing culture and diversity in promoting good mental health and wellbeing.  Alfonso Pezzella spoke about LGBT awareness, highlighting the importance of accepting our identity and being proud of who we are. These sessions generated a lot of interesting discussion and positive engagement from the audiences. 

Not only were we blown away by the conference; the organisation, the passion and enthusiasm but so was everyone around us.  It was a real honour for us to be a part of this special day, supporting a team who have worked so hard to make a difference to young people experiencing mental health problems. 

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