A term like no other

Since March, the world has changed. School Business management has changed. I remember back in March listening to our Prime Minister, huddled up with the family in front of the tv and taking in the news that our Country was about to go into a national lockdown. It would have been difficult to predict what the next 6 months would have been like then. The school business management community mobilised rapidly, and I remember getting up to speed with every Covid related publication on schools as I knew (as a parent) the questions from schools and parents would be coming thick and fast.

Time to mobilise

Due to the timing of lockdown, my priority was ensuring that every one of my 12 schools had budgets they could access to make the necessary emergency purchases. Face to face governors’ meetings quickly turned to zoom, teams and hangouts. Suddenly much of the day to day tasks turned to remote working with staff encouraged to work from home on rotas. Little did I think at that time that my own and other colleague’s mental health would be so important. As a senior leadership team, mental health was near the top of our agenda and was discussed from day one.

Are you ok?

Prior to my career as an SBM I worked for the NHS in mental health as part of their outreach team. My previous experience has certainly been tested during this pandemic and it has been of particular use is spotting when staff are not ok (I am one of those to). One of the things we do as a team for our staff is to regularly touch base with them and ask them how they are. Understanding how people react when they anxious is key to understanding mental health. I think I read this week that over 50% of people surveyed admitted that their mental health had deteriorated since the beginning of the pandemic. I think the figures amongst children are the most worrying and potentially could have an adverse impact on a generation of children.

Where is the light?

What has helped in me with carrying out my SBM duties has been the network of schools in my area. We already had many links as a consortium but over the last 6 months we have shared everything from ideas, staff, moral support and most importantly shoulders to cry on.

Many of us have also lost loved ones this year under difficult circumstances. I remember talking to an SBM who had lost a close relative in April to Covid, when funerals were not taking place. Little did I know that my own mental health was about to be taken to the brink. In August, I lost my mother in law and to add to the grief, we were not allowed to see her for the time she was in hospital. 4 weeks later I was hospitalised for a week(The hospital did let me bring my laptop). Both of these events did have a profound impact on me, to a point where I knew my own mental health was not good. What did help me get though this very difficult period was my family but also my peers, many of whom were feeling the same way. 

An arm around each other

The pressure put on us has never been so much, but so important and vital to the safety and well being of others and when we look back in years to come, we will all look back and say, ‘we made a difference’, we came through it, but right now we need to stick to together as a profession and continue to support one another and do what we do best and lead.

And finally – its ok to not be ok.

If you require any advice or support in mental health here is a list of organisations able to help:

www.mind.org.uk

www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/mental-health-helplines

www.rethink.org

www.youngminds.org.uk

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