A student at a local school has won national recognition for the provision of mental health for her peers.
Elin Jones, 19, who attended Ellesmere College has been named Rising Star in the Independent Schools of the Year Awards 2022, which recognise and celebrate inspiring work.
Elin, from Wrexham, was given the award after her dedication, tireless campaigning and legacy for the ongoing mental health awareness and support programme she set up at Ellesmere College.
She has arranged funding for more than 35 staff and students to receive Mental Health Awareness training, set up a Wellness Suite at the school – a haven for children to have quiet time, reflection and support – and organised various charity days in aid of Young Minds and International Mental Health Day.
Another legacy of Elin’s is an integrated and ongoing school wide programme – MHESS – Mental Health at Ellesmere Support System, which she developed and grew not long after joining Ellesmere College in the Sixth Form.
Headmaster Brendan Wignall said: “We are immensely proud of Elin, who thoroughly deserves this award.
“Using her own personal experience of severe depression through her teenage years, she has made a huge impact on life here at Ellesmere.
“Her work ensuring a whole school approach to supporting and helping students of all ages with mental health issues of any size of severity was made all the more important during the Covid years where mental health issues amongst students and young people saw an exponential rise.”
Elin’s work is implemented with the assistance of the Nursing Staff, Pastoral Heads and Director of Rugby Alex Murphy, a trained counsellor who understands the impact of mental health after his professional playing career ended following an injury.
MHESS monitors, helps and advises students with issues such as academic and exam stress as well as other potential personal issues and is designed to safeguard all aspects of the mental health of any young adult and act as a safety net to avoid situations from potentially worsening.
In addition, Time to talk (TTT) sessions were initiated with school nurses and Lower School developed a kindness tree and a problem box to help the younger pupils share positive caring acts and also their worries.
Elin’s legacy sees the school continue to train new sixth formers and staff who maintain that commitment to the emotional wellbeing of the pupils.
Mr Wignall added: “This award is for students who overcome adversity or materially exceed normal expectations and Elin is the epitome of that.
“As a top priority already within our Pastoral Care System through Housemasters, Housemothers and Tutors, nurturing the mental health of our students took another step forward with the implementation of MHESS.
“Elin’s incredible interpersonal skills has enabled everyone at Ellesmere to embrace open conversations, information sharing and provide appropriate help and support.”
The awards, run by Independent School Parent magazine, were held at the Royal Thames Yacht Club in London on October 11.
The school was one of five finalists in the category and David Moncrieff, Chair of the Editorial Advisory Board at Independent School Parent, said: “The last two years have been one of the most challenging periods in education, but as we move forward into 2022 our independent schools are regrouping and refocusing with their accustomed energy and commitment.
“Whatever the challenges they have faced, the independent school sector has continued to deliver an unrivalled education to its students, delivering the best possible student experience.
“Delivering and supporting student excellence lies at the heart of each award.”
For more please visit MHESS at Ellesmere College.
Elin Jones and Alex Murphy at Ellesmere College.
Headmaster of Ellesmere College Brendan Wignall with Elin Jones at the ceremony in London.
Elin Jones getting her award.
L to R – Eiry Davies, Senior School Nurse, Elin Jones and Brendan Wignall, Headmaster.