In December 2020, APEEE members held a Well-Being Kick Off meeting to launch a new working group with parents on mental health and well-being at our school. The organizers of the working group then held several brainstorming sessions to identify the main issues facing Primary and Secondary students and to see how we parents could help. The working group also did a test-run of a peer-coaching session with a few parents and students from the group using The Flow game, an interactive game aimed at creating interpersonal reflection and dialogue around important questions in life. The working group aims to hold a series of sessions of the Flow Game with classes in Primary and Secondary as a way of building peer-to-peer coaching capacities among pupils.
In January 2021, the Well-Being working group joined forces with the school psychologists as well as student representatives from the Pupils’ Committee (CdE) to create a Well-Being Action Plan for Primary and Secondary pupils. This Action Plan consists of a series of workshops, lectures, and interventions on topics of developmental importance that the working group plans to offer on a grade-by-grade basis starting in Fall 2021. For P1, for example, a workshop or other interventions on “My body and your body” could be held. In P5, the plan currently envisions various interventions focused on the topics of “Internet safety,” “the first crush,” and “physical changes”. In the higher grades, for example in S1, a trilogy of workshops could be held that deal with “Social Skills,” “Respect/Tolerance” and “Time Management. For S2, the workshops could deal with “Health,” “Equality/Diversity,” and “Values and Beliefs.” In S5, workshops could focus on “Healthy Sleep” and “Addictions,” and so forth.
The Well-Being working group is committed to a more transversal working approach. First, we wish to link together existing “well-being stakeholders” and resources within our school and between the European Schools to implement more comprehensive efforts aimed at improving pupils’ mental health and well-being. Second, we wish also to link up and utilize with more frequency the expertise of existing organizations in Belgium and the EU that already offer mental health and well-being support services for youth. In this vein, the Well-Being working group has: a) created a running “contact inventory” of all such national and EU organizations for future use by the APEEE and the school and b) initiated contact with Community Health Service (CHS), Centre de Prévention du Suicide, and Centrum ter Preventie van Zelfdoding to try to plan some webinars, workshops, and other interventions on mental health and well-being issues in English, French, and Dutch before the end of the school year. “How to Stay Sane during a Protracted Pandemic” is one such CHS webinar that the well-being working group is hoping to be able to host in the final months of the school year.
The Well-Being Working Group has supported two other initiatives in our school, as follows:
- The Free-to-Be-Me Club has been created by two Secondary teachers who invited students to join on a voluntary basis. The goal of the Club is to create a safe environment where, with the support of a coach, boys and girls can freely express who they are, have conversations around confidence, role models as well as understanding and relating to the others.
- The Gender Working Group is made up from representatives of the management, teachers from both Primary and Secondary, representing all linguistic sections, as well as a parent representative. The goal of this Working Group is to identify gender bias in our school and to co-create and propose actions that can mitigate this bias and ensure a balanced environment where boys and girls feel equally valued and fulfilled.
For more information about this working group or if you have any thoughts or suggestions you would like to share, please feel free to contact: