Nicola Harvey portrait

Written by Nicola Harvey

Nicola Harvey is the founder of Harvey Heals Wellbeing Consultancy. She is a trauma-informed Senior Education & Wellbeing Consultant, Clinical Reflective Practice Supervisor, Trainer & Facilitator, and Published Author. Nicola has worked in a range of settings, supporting educators, young people, parents and professionals, and is passionate about diversity and inclusive practice. To find out more about Nicola and her organisation, go to:

After a well-deserved summer break, students and educators have returned to the classroom. And as we settle back into school routines, there continues to be a focus on mental health and wellbeing.

The impact of the cost-of-living crisis, social disparities, lockdowns, academic performance, and many other factors, continue to take a strain on the wellbeing of students and staff.

According to the Children’s Society’s Good Childhood Report, the likelihood of young people having a mental health problem has increased by 50%, and happiness continues to decline. Now, five children in a classroom of 30 are likely to have a mental health problem. However, despite the statistics, it is becoming harder to access support for children’s mental health and emotional wellbeing.

In addition, Education Support’s 2022 Teacher Wellbeing Index, states 78% of all staff surveyed experienced mental health symptoms due to their work in education. Often related to stress, depression and anxiety, this contributes to the decline in school staff wellbeing.

However, when mental health and wellbeing is at the forefront of a whole school ethos, it can help members of the school community feel valued, psychologically safe, and supported in their surroundings. This is why easily accessible tools and resources promoting positive mental health and wellbeing, need to be available.

To help improve mental health and wellbeing in education, I was invited to produce the content for the A-Z of Mental Health poster on behalf of Optimus Education.

With an inclusive approach, the A to Z of activities outline practical and supportive self-regulation tools for children, young people and adults. I have broken each activity down into small, manageable chunks, tips and advice, to help students and educators feel less overwhelmed, and more equipped to cope with the ups and downs school life. With a mindfulness-based focus, the activities on the poster include:

  • asking for help
  • developing healthy habits
  • improving mood
  • increasing self-esteem.

I am delighted with the response, which has been well received by schools, parents, therapists, and a range of professionals across the UK and abroad. 

The A-Z of Mental Health poster can be used in a variety of ways, including:

  • A calming visual for an anxious student. Ask the student to choose an activity on the poster to help them self-regulate and gradually feel calm.
  • During PSHE, as a whole class starter activity. Each week, progress through one or two activities (letters of the alphabet) for the lesson.
  • In staff meetings or INSETs – choosing an activity from the poster for educators to do as an icebreaker at the beginning of the meeting or to close the session.
  • As a visual guide, prompting students to create their own personalised A-Z posters with helpful activities to support their wellbeing.

Most importantly, as we settle back into school routines after the summer break, the A-Z of Mental Health poster encourages anyone experiencing a range of emotions, to take a break and use the practical mindfulness-based tools to support their wellbeing. 

To download your free copy of the poster, click here.