Izzy Rainbow is the Foundation Co-ordinator for mdeducational Foundation. The Foundation was set up to provide dedicated mental health support to young people aged 16-18 in schools across the UK and Ireland and is fully funded by mdgroup.
We spoke to Izzy about her role, the Foundation’s first Wellbeing Hub at Steyning Grammar School, and how mdeducational Foundation plans to help even more young people in schools all across the UK.
Hi Izzy, tell us more about why young people’s mental health is so important?
I think mental health is hugely important to everyone, but at the 16-18 year old stage of life, I’d go as far to say that mental health support is critical. At that age, many young people struggle with confidence and as they move from a more structured school system into sixth form or college, they face a lot of new experiences and challenges. These young people are deciding their futures and we want to help make that transition to adulthood as smooth as possible.
Despite awareness around mental health continuing to grow, there is still stigma attached to getting help. I believe that if we can just get young people talking and help them realise mental health is nothing to be ashamed of, we can give them the tools they need to build their mental health resilience for life.
Can you tell us more about the first Wellbeing Hub?
As part of the three-year grant we provide to schools, we fund Wellbeing Hubs and qualified mental health professionals for schools. Our Practitioners work with schools to implement strategies to improve student mental health, giving them the tools they need to thrive.
Our first Hub at Steyning Grammar School opened in January this year, and contains brand new gym equipment and a welcoming, cosy mindfulness space for the students to use. It also doubles as a base for the school’s newest Wellbeing Practitioner. Both the Hub and Practitioner are available for students five days a week.
Creating a homely, safe and mindful space for the students is the priority for the academy, along with building relationships and trust between the students and their new Practitioner. We’re also researching and measuring outcomes to support our work and create a cohesive atmosphere that encourages wellbeing.
What are you most passionate about in your role?
I really enjoy visiting schools and seeing first-hand how much staff and students value the support we can offer. One teacher even told me it had made her year, which was wonderful to hear!
On a recent visit, I spoke with other sixth form staff members and they were just over the moon with the Wellbeing Hub. It’s moments like these that make me realise how much we’re making a difference, and I find that incredibly motivating. It propels me forward and underlines why we’re doing what we’re doing.
And finally, what’s next for your team and the Foundation?
We’re now working with five schools to see what support we can offer to each of them. Our aim from working with these schools is to be able to create a wellness package that we can then use as the basis to go out to more schools nationally.
If I could wave a magic wand, I’d love to see a version of our Wellbeing Hubs in every school across the country. Our programs are pioneering a future for better mental health for teenagers, so they are more empowered, no matter what their challenges.
To find out more about mdeducational foundation, and the important work they are doing to support your young people in their wellbeing, get in touch with the Foundation.
Are you looking for extra support for your students? Find out more and apply for the mdeducational three-year grant here.