Jonny Benjamin MBE and Louisa Rose reflect on Now and Beyond on Inside Out Day, the UK’s first ever mental health and wellbeing festival for schools
Last week was a huge week for us at Beyond and Inside Out Day. We hosted the UK’s first ever mental health and wellbeing festival for schools and colleges, which we developed to provide mental health support and resources at a time when they need it more desperately than ever.
The festival connected educational settings with dedicated resources and materials, enabled schools and colleges to book private workshops with our army of mental health professionals and worked with inspiring speakers to host live streams throughout the day.
It took 5 months of planning during a pandemic but our work paid off. Week by week, more schools and colleges signed up and within 3 months of opening the registrations, 1000 had signed up. By Festival Day we had over 1200 participating and we were able to reach 500 000 people. Some of our schools’ invited full year groups to their workshops. At one, 78 families joined the session!
This journey has reinforced a few key things for us. Firstly, not only is the need greater than ever for mental health support in the education system but the desire for it is too. Teachers jumped at the opportunity that the festival provided them. Lots of schools scrapped their usual timetabling to make space for all the activities of the day.
Secondly, the wealth of varied mental health and wellbeing educational provisions available in the UK is immense. Every single one of our vetted and approved hosts offer unique, invaluable services providing a mix of support services and preventative education.
Thirdly, we thought that it was possible to create a nationwide network of professionals and connect them with local schools but now we’ve actually proven it. Our platform helped to facilitate 350 sessions with local mental health providers all over the UK. We built a database of over 350 providers with whom we want our work to continue.
And finally, collaboration is the single most effective tool in creating change. From our organisational team of about 30 volunteers and our 350+ strong army of mental health experts and speakers to the incredible companies who wrote bespoke learning materials to support the day and the national organisations who came on board, the power of community was clear.
So what next? Our work doesn’t stop here. We’ve been calling this the mental health revolution and it truly feels like we’ve rallied the troops and everyone is ready for stage II. We all know that youth mental health has declined terribly, that teacher wellbeings is at an all time low and that parents are suffering the most challenging time of their lives. We want to shift the dial so that we not only talk about helping to support those affected but actually create the support we speak of.
Our plans include building a nationwide database of vetted and approved mental health and wellbeing providers who work in educational settings; running a programme of live events during and out of school time; launching our grant fund to provide financial assistance and continuing to raise awareness and increase pressure on the government to take this approach seriously.
We believe that we can make a difference but we know it is only possible if we work together. So, if you’re keen to join our journey which includes Now and Beyond 2022, click here.
Beyond are a grant-giving organisation committed to making a difference to the mental health of young people up and down the UK. Beyond aims to provide the help currently lacking in mental health provision by giving grants to organisations and charities that work with young people, their families and educators.