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The School Mentor Podcast: Episode One - Defining Well-being

Podcast Transcript:

Today is my first ever attempt at recording a podcast, and a video solo. So here goes.

Thank you very much for spending some of your precious time with me. Now, I wanted to create this recording, for you to get to know me a little bit better. I've worked in, the school space, in school well-being since 2017, But in that time I've also, had my family, so my daughter Evelyn arrived at the beginning of 2021, My son Finn arrived at the end of 2022, and I don't know if anyone else noticed but there was a bit of a thing going on around 2020, which meant that it's been an interesting ride since I started in this sector and and took my health and well-being coaching into schools specifically.

This Is Me Mentoring is a business that offers training to schools, and I go in and I teach them how to be incredible mentors. I use my background as a Samaritan, combined with my coaching skill to create a a program of training that helps people know exactly what to do in a mentoring conversation exactly how to help somebody and also apply those skills to any well-being challenges that they are facing.

I had this plan in my head of what I was going to record today. I was going to focus in on teacher well-being, but as I started that recording, I realised, you know what? There's a foundation piece before this that I don't ever hear talked about in schools, that I think would be more valuable to start with.

Perhaps you have been thrown into a well-being role in school, perhaps you're just frustrated at looking around and thinking, wow, we keep spending money on well-being, but what on earth are we achieving? So I wanted to share an idea with you instead. And it's a principle that was, developed and created by Doctor. Daniel Siegel, if you have not looked up his stuff, I will pop a link on the video. This is really ambitious of me. I'm gonna pop a link on the video. I don't know how to do that. I'm gonna try and work that out, but I'll pop a link on video to some of his books.

They are such an incredible source of information for understanding how the brain works, but particularly how the brain works in relation to our well-being. But Dan Siegel describes, mental well-being in a way that's really, really clear and easy to understand because I think that this is something that we struggle with, right? Even as a Head of health and well-being myself, I would have people say, do you know what, Miff you really get the well-being stuff, and I'd be there going, do I? You know, what What is it? Is it just a sense of feeling nice or feeling okay? Like how do we actually clarify what good well-being is? And how do we get clear enough about it so we know how to guide somebody back to, good well-being when they've drifted away from it,

Now, when we talk about physical well-being, it's quite easy because it's quite linear. We're either unfit or unwell And then there's a process of recovery, a process of rehabilitation, we go through the exercises, and we get stronger, and we get fitter, and we do some running, we get out of breath, and that strengthens our heart and our lungs, and There's this process that's really clearly laid out for us, but it doesn't feel that way when it comes to mental well-being. Something I always I always end up discussing when I'm in school I say the words mental well-being to people. They they say, yeah, I think about depression, I think about anxiety, I think about self harm, or struggling, or they think, well, that's all about journaling, and that's all about meditating and maybe yoga and they have these kind of quite extreme things, but there's not nobody ever comes up and says, well, is a sense of of how people feel, and there's a clear defined process for for how you improve it or what's gone wrong if it's if it's not there, right? And so I wanted to share this bit with you because I think that this is, possibly the most useful insight that I've heard, in my time in this space, particularly focusing around young people and the adults that surround young people. to to help us understand what's going on in our minds and in our brains that can, relate and give us a bit of a guide and a bit of a map towards, towards goodwill being.

So much of Dan Siegel's work is about integration, integration of the brain so that all the different components of the brain are working together as they should be, and there isn't one part of the brain that is excessively dominant and and running the show because what he describes in his books and in his work is that when we have that imbalance in our brains, that is when things go awry. Now he describes this, incredible image of a river running through the countryside, and it's meandering through fields and hills and, you know, you can picture this lovely, this lovely image in your head. Now we sit in a canoe in a in a boat on our river, and we're just sailing down Okay? And when we are in the center of the river, that is where our positive mental well-being sits. Okay? So we are sailing down our river, but one of the banks represents chaos, and the other bank represents rigidity. And what happens in our minds is as we as we, as our boat sails along, it might go too far one way, and our mind might become loud and chaotic and stressed and angry and, you know, really, really confused and it's too full we feel overwhelmed. It's too much. It's too much. And that is on one side, so that doesn't feel good. So we want to course correct a little bit so we get in the middle again, but if we over course correct, then we end up on the side, on the bank of rigidity, and that side is when we are trying to control everything. We're trying to lock everything down. We want everything to have a timing, it to be done exactly the way that we want at any time that it doesn't happen the way that we need it to or the way that we have it pictured in our minds, it becomes a problem because we then flip from that rigidity over to chaos. What often happens and I see this and I I can think about so many pupils that I've spoken to over the years that have bounced from one side to the other, one side to the other, one side to the other, and they aren't able to find that settle in the middle. They aren't able to allow just a little bit of chaos, you know, let go of the reins a little bit, accept that perhaps there are things out of their control, and you know, I'm picturing those pupils that are are heading into exams and wanting to just control, control, control everything, and sometimes needing to know that they can't control other people, or they can't control some external forces that they can just do the bits within, within their control, within their boat if you like, they can just do those bits. and then you see the people on the other side that have gone too far towards that chaos and that can be equally anxiety inducing, right? Because you've got no control. There is nothing predictable there is nothing going on that you can rely on. And so when we're in this situation, you can see that it's really hard and and if you are in that chaotic position that you want to grab control back. Yeah? You want to grab it back because you wanna feel on control, but that doesn't feel good either. It's finding this place in the middle.

Now I love this image, because I think for me, it's quite instructive, and it's a lens that we can use when we are speaking to other people. When you see that somebody is struggling, you can look at them and go, okay, cool. Are we in a state of chaos, or are we in a state of rigidity? And if you know that somebody is in one of those states, then you know that they're not in a positive place with their mental well-being, and therefore your focus can be on bringing them back into the center of the river rather than trying to battle them on either side of the of it, you know, on either of those banks. If that makes sense. Yeah. We wanna try and coax people into a place where they feel calm and they feel at ease because at that point they don't need to be defensive, They don't need to, be on the attack or be on the defence. They're just floating along and they're able to to deal with whatever's coming coming their way. So I've chosen to talk about this in my very first video because so often this is missed. We don't have a guiding north star, if you like, for well, what does should well-being look like? And the difficulty is with well-being is it looks different for everybody, right? We don't have a bleep test that can measure our well-being. But what we do have in this image is the ability to say, right, here's a lens I can look through. Is the person in front of me whose well-being I want to improve - Which bank are they on? And what can I do to help bring them back to the centre? So I hope hope I hope that this is a useful concept, in the next couple of recordings, I'm gonna start looking at, a focus on teacher well-being, a focus on pupil well-being. I'm gonna share a little bit more about mentoring, and coaching and how it can fit within the school setting. but I hope that this has been a useful session, there's been a useful, few minutes of your time, and please let me know what you think. Thank you very much. For listening, for joining me. Let me see if I can work out how to edit this now. Wish me luck.

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