A film by Daniel Gordon has been released lauding one London Primary School for introducing a series of measures to combat the growing trend of poor mental health in children.
[You can watch the video here]
Highgate Primary School, has embraced several innovative measures to improve their pupils mental well-being, from dogs in the playground, sound proofed classrooms and the availability of talk therapy and psychotherapy for each student.
The school has normalised the process of attending therapy so each child feels no stigma should they wish to use the service.
The school is said to be delivering a 'well-being first’ approach. They offer on the premises drama therapy, and talk therapy which one in ten of the schools pupils attend. Most of the therapists are trainees or new graduates so with the combination of some charity funding and a small investment of £7000 per year from the school they are able to directly tackle the rise of mental health disorders in young people which is on the rise throughout the UK.
Watch the video and you can see the school has its own dog and also allows dogs to attend the school premises at drop off and pickup times.
Highgate has implemented 5 key measures to combat poor mental health.
1. Availability of Therapy
2. Dogs are allowed on site.
3. Soundproofed classrooms.
4. Lessons outside.
5. School is for parents too.
Every child has some lessons outside where they can engage with each other and climb trees. The classroom soundproofing allows teachers to command attention without raising their voices due to improved acoustics and the parents of pupils can also access the onsite therapists meaning the impact on the community doesn't just stop at the children but can resonate outwards to have a positive effect on the children’s households which can only help support a culture of well-being at home.
The amount of children attending Highgates onsite therapists is statistically mirrored by the data released from NHS digital last year that indicated one in nine children experience mental health disorders. That figure is for 5-15 year old's however if we broaden the scope to 5-19 year old's the figure becomes one in eight.
In the age group of 17-19 year olds one in four young women have a mental health disorder, emotional disorders such as anxiety ranking the highest. Over half of these reportedly have attempted suicide or self-harm.
Statistics like these are an important warning that the impacts of mental health disorders are very real and schools who go out of their way to combat the issues should be applauded and considered to delivering best practise.
Whilst many argue that schools already have a priority to educate and aren’t qualified to deliver therapy this school has shown how the introduction of several small but effective measures can shift the culture internally to become a learning space which caters for mental health well-being without costing a fortune or requiring massive change to be effective.
The mental health foundation has a 'Make It Count' Campaign which states that Mental Health is not extracurricular. You can find out more about the campaign here.
Mark Rowland Chief Exec of the Mental Health Foundation said
"The school environment has a significant impact on a young person’s emotional welfare. For children’s well being to thrive during school hours, teachers need the confidence and knowledge to nurture young people’s development. Equally, teachers need to be supported with their own mental health throughout their career.
By exploring the root causes that lead to distress, be it body image, relationships or exam stress, we can help build resilience and prevent mental health problems from developing in the first place. "
You can sign the foundations petition to put mental health at the heart of school culture here.
The previous education secretary Damien Hinds said every single school in the country should have a school dog. Here's a video showcasing therapy dogs in schools on channel 5 news.
Now in the spirit of introducing small changes to impact mental health in schools we would be remiss if we didn’t point you towards our try before you buy student standing desk trials.
Hundreds of schools nationwide are becoming healthier and embracing movement and physical literacy to create more attentive learning spaces by introducing standing desks into the classroom.
Take a look at our product range and apply for a trial if your school could benefit from improved engagement, better mental health, happier, better behaved children and improved academic results.
Childhood obesity in the UK is at crisis point. Nearly one in twenty year 6 pupils require medical intervention as a result of obesity. One in five children enter primary school already obese and a staggering two out of three end their last primary term obese.
The requirements of schools when covering food and nutrition are quite limited. Despite the knowledge that children who learn to cook early on tend to grow up to eat healthier than those who have not. The guidance for schools is delivered as part of the design and technology aspects of the curriculum and the goals are; Children are required to know "where food comes from" in the first couple of years at primary. At secondary level the teaching should include elements to educate kids on "understanding and applying the principles of a healthy and varied diet." and "prepare and cook a variety of predominantly savoury dishes using a range of cooking techniques."
Despite the secondary school guidance being quite specific very few schools are geared up to teach kids hands on cooking. They lack the resources from equipment, funds for ingredients and a safe learning space for cooking with appropriately trained topic specific educators.
A recent study of 1000 children by Zanussi illustrates how many children are left ignorant of some of the basics. For instance one in three children surveyed struggled to identify that the tuna in a sandwich comes from a fish. Perhaps even more disturbingly one in ten children surveyed believed eggs came from cows.
A scary reflection of the limited time we as a nation spend at home and in school educating our children about the world around them including food and its source.
The survey was produced by Zanussi to promote their new relationship with food writer, Amanda Grant's Cook School. The team have joined together to deliver a pilot scheme which works with primary school kids to teach them the skills they need to create healthy balanced meals.
The sessions can be held in school cafeterias. The session leaders talk to children about different foods they may be unfamiliar with and allow them to get hands on creating foods such as falafel and letting the kids get hands on with sticky, smelly and differently textured ingredients to inspire some retention and enthusiasm for the subject which seems to come easily once the kids get stuck in.
The telegraphs Sally Peck wrote about a session she attended and observed enthusiastic reactions from the kids participating in the sessions.
“It’s like playing with sand!”
“Disgusting... but nice!”
“I feel like I'm on ?Great British Bake Off!”
“I want to be a vegetarian, because I like animals, but I've never tried falafel.”
“I've never had it either, but it smells delicious.”
Grant and Zanussi’s Cook School aims to be available to at least 30 schools and 30,000 children nationwide by the end of next year.
Grant talks about how children emulate each other so it’s healthy to see each other trying new foods and also to foster independence by getting them to make their own meals without an adult to step in and take over.
Grant also came out with another stellar piece of advice for parents of young children suggesting that kids be encouraged to have foods of different colours on their plate for each meal.
“We’re not preaching; we’re equipping them with cheap recipes to make at home; a child learning to grate safely, how to chop garlic, is helpful rather than a hindrance.” - Grant
Cook School is a nationwide, not-for-profit organisation helping children to understand food & teaching children to cook. Children inspiring children. They are going to make a free newsletter available to families and you can sign up to it and learn more about how you could get involved right here.
Chief medical officer says ban snack culture. [Telegraph]
A worrying annual report has surfaced on the BBC website this week detailing how one in five young people have been a victim of bullying.
Now three quarters of those bullied said it affected their mental health and they "nearly became depressed" as a result.
The figures mirror last year’s study. The Children's commissioner for England said "More needs to be done at home and in schools to help those who are the victims of bullying and also, crucially, to prevent children from bullying in the first place,”
Over 2000 people between 12 and 20 answered the survey which also assessed prejudice based views around racism, sexism, homophobia, disablism and transphobia.
The survey found;
The most common type of bullying was verbal, with cyberbullying the least common.
- Of those bullied, 33% said that they had suicidal thoughts, while 41% were left feeling anxious.
- Some 62% were bullied by a classmate and 37% by someone at school they did not know.
- Nearly two-thirds (59%) believed attitudes towards their appearance were the likely cause of bullying.
- In the majority of cases, male respondents were more likely to exhibit negative attitudes than females.
Young people’s mental health issues are on the rise in the UK, meanwhile the NHS cancelled 175,000 healthcare appointments focusing on mental health in the last year alone. According to Charity MIND this represents a 25% increase in cancelled appointments of this kind.
Now new proposals by Labour have indicated that they will prioritise children’s mental health and have pledged a qualified counsellor will be employed in every secondary school much akin to the American school system who often include school councillors amongst their staff base.
Now in 2017 one in eight 5 to 19 year old's had been diagnosed with at least one mental health disorder.
The BBC site writes; "Announcing plans for "real change", Labour said it would spend £845m per year on its Healthy Young Minds plan."
Iwantastandingdesk.com work with schools to identify solutions for young people with diagnosis who might require a standing desk in their classroom.
This could be a child with ADHD or autism who benefits from the added freedom of movement or improved engagement levels the increased oxygenation and serotonin boost that standing affords them.
We receive countless anecdotal reports of general mood and mental well-being improving from standing desk users. The Bottom line is standing makes you feel good because your body responds better to small movements and physical activity than it does to sedentary behaviour.
Standing is proven to also increase academic performance and test results.
If you want a "try before you buy" trial at your school just fill in this short form and you can see how well your classrooms respond to standing desks.
500 GP's will adopt standing desks in their practise in a new trial designed to "set an example" of healthy living by delivering standing consultations.
The primary aim of the study is to determine if swapping to standing desks can improve GP's own health however a secondary aim is to inspire their patients to become more physically active.
Loughborough University are leading the trial the first phase of which will ask GPs to fill out a survey on their views of the issue before Doctors in the East and West Midlands adopt ActivPal devices.
The device will monitor the GPs standing/sitting ratio without a standing desk and then again once they adopt a standing desk into their offices.
GPs will then be invited to advise of their experience with a view to further expansion.
The move is likely to inspire conversations with patients about the standing desk culture and the innumerate benefits of standing over sitting at work. Professor Amanda Daley, of Loughborough University’s School of Sport, Health and Exercise Sciences believes the trial will encourage people to make their own positive changes.
"There’s a changing nature to general practice, with group consultations for diabetes, for example, and increased emphasis on physical activity. We want the standing desks to ultimately become part of the Active Practices charter." said Professor Daley who leads the study.
The RCGP is the professional membership body for family doctors in the UK and overseas. Professor Stokes-Lampard chair of the RCGP said;
"Standing consultations could be an effective way of having productive and beneficial conversations with some of our patients, particularly around ‘lifestyle’ issues and highlighting the need for us all to reduce our sitting time and move more."
She did also note that the interpersonal nature of conversations which are required of doctors would likely suffer if the Dr was stood and the patient wasn't. Certain GPs with patients who would be unable to stand might see fit not to adopt standing desks as it is well within the ethos of clinics not to make the patient uncomfortable in any way during the process. Obviously patients who are elderly, frail, pregnant, disabled or about to receive bad news, may prefer to be seated.
The trial comes off the back of the Colleges Active Practises campaign which is designed to boost the well-being of healthcare staff. The college is about to launch its own scheme to encourage standing desk adoption after seeing the NHS introduce standing desks to "tackle sedentary behaviour in the workplace" and compliment "NICE's new quality standard."
One Nottingham GP praised the study’s natural 'ripple effect' after seeing other practise staff adopting standing desks and patients respond positively.
Some GPs have raised questions about the cost of the standing desks used in the trial which have a hefty price tag of £2000. The Study also aims to determine if it will shorten the average length of consultations.
Our standing desks are available to purchase at a more reasonable price tag right here.
Further reading :NHS Adopt Standing Desks
At a time where childhood obesity is being given some well overdue attention It has been reported that University College London (UCL) have released details of a study which indicates that students who are physically active during a lesson have improved results in tests than classmates who choose sedentary learning.
So star jumps, running on the spot or dare we say it, standing desks which boost physical movement can have a significant effect on pupil’s outcomes within the test environment and to a lesser degree the overall academic results for the year.
The UCL analysed forty two studies from around the world which scraped data from over twelve thousand students between three and fourteen found that integrating physical movement into classes also stimulated pupils overall movement activity levels.
“Physical activity is good for children’s health, and the biggest contributor of sedentary time in children’s lives is the seven or eight hours a day they spend in classrooms.
“Our study shows that physically active lessons are a useful addition to the curriculum. They can create a memorable learning experience, helping children to learn more effectively.” the study’s lead author Dr Emma Norris, from the UCL centre for behaviour change.
Previously delegates at NAHT (The National Association of Head teachers) debated 'physically active learning' to be integrated into the curriculum and have passed a motion to encourage schools to adopt the method.
“There has long been an established body of research about the benefits of exercise on academic learning and many schools already incorporate such exercises into their lessons when they think they will benefit pupils." Julie McCulloch, director of policy at the Association of School and College Leaders
One of the analysed studies found that Netherlands children who took part in three physically centred lessons a week attained significantly better results in Maths and English equating to four extra months of learning gains.
We have written before about the benefits of active classes such as those encouraged by the BBC super movers and schools that integrate standing desks into their learning spaces can help students benefit by as much as a 16% improvement in academic performance.
A study on language learning showed improved results from learners who learnt whilst riding a bicycle performed far better than students who learnt whilst sedentary. This was tested at the time and four months later and both tests had improved results for the active learners.
The International Journal of Health Promotion and Education reported students given standing desks are 12% more likely to answer questions and join in class discussions.
Source: The Independent
Schools wanting to integrate standing desks into their classrooms can "Try Before You Buy" the EIGER Student Standing Desk here.
Jonathan Haslam has produced an article this week asking the question of whether "Can schools be expected to solve the obesity crisis?” Haslam is the Director of the Institute for Effective Education. The IEE is an independent charity promoting the use of evidence in education policy and decision making so it stands to reason that Haslam is well placed to ask the question. Haslam cites the following recently published studies;
A randomised controlled trial of the West Midlands Active Lifestyle and Healthy Eating in School Children (WAVES) intervention.
The trial included 1500 five and six year olds from 54 primary schools and lasted 12 months.
The trial included;
- Increasing moderate to vigorous physical exercise (MVPA) on each school day.
- cooking workshops, when parents were invited to participate.
- a six-week programme to encourage healthy eating and increase physical vitality, delivered by the local professional football club
- Information sheets supporting children and their families to be active over the summer.
Children’s vital obesity stats were tracked at the start of the trial and then again after 15 and 30 months. The results were compared to a control group. The mean difference was completely negligible meaning these interventions were of no use and ultimately unsuccessful.
Now Haslam makes the sound point that primary school children may not have been the appropriate focus group and become less active as they become older so he proposes the test should perhaps have been undertaken with secondary school children.
One study found that exercising after study may help you remember.
The other cited study analyses the impacts of Girls Active a programme developed by the Youth Sport Trust that supplied a framework to schools reviewing their Physical Education offerings to ensure they are relevant to and interesting to adolescent girls focussing on 11-14 year olds.
Twenty secondary schools participated however only ten of which actually received the intervention and the other ten acted as a control. The success of the scheme was primarily measured in MVPA recorded on wrist based accelerometers. Then levels of activity, sedentary time, body mass and psychosocial measures were also recorded. The result of this scheme was successful in larger schools but contrarily smaller schools actually recorded a decrease in MVPA. Haslam noted smaller schools might be distracted by the schemes so much that benefit is lost.
Both of the studies resulted in negative results and Haslam speculates that from this we should perhaps determine that the onus shouldn’t be on the schools to address the obesity crisis. Given the limited resources of schools making the right choice is of course essential however when Haslam uses the above referenced studies to remind schools that investment in addressing positive change toward pupil health and physical literacy might result in no improvement this writer believes his point to be overly conclusive based on limited data and don’t discount the benefit of school wide health improvements.
So what do I mean? Well the first study was of only 1500 children. These kids were five to six year olds. Primary schools admit children from the ages of five through to eleven. The studied group were only just beginning their scholastic journey. Now health officials say nearly four in ten children leaving primary school will be overweight or obese by 2024.
The proportion of children aged ten and eleven who are an unhealthy weight when they leave primary school is predicted to rise by 11 per cent within five years, from 34.3 per cent to 38.1 per cent.
The focus group in this study was not of the older primary school who over time in the school environment have lessened their activity levels, adopted screen time as their favourite past times and decided they are too cool for sport.
In reality older primary school children should see benefit if they have five or six years of adopting good habits driven into them by an established proactive methodology to counteract childhood obesity from the moment they enter the school system.
The second study focused on only ten secondary schools in one region of the country. Within this isolated group the targets were made to focus exclusively on girls of a two year age range. Once again incredibly specific and the range of results from positive to negative almost discount each other making the resulting take-away's diluted at best.
Citing studies of small focus groups and less ‘at-risk’ demographics which then show considerably poor results is unsurprising and not indicative of the potential for physical health improving schemes implemented across the primary and secondary school age ranges establishing a culture of positive health which can have long term positive effects on attitudes to exercise and healthy eating.
Our recent articles demonstrate how schools can have a significant impact on pupil health if they open their facilities up to the communities they serve and modify their in house physical literacy curriculum's and lunch time menus.
In short, this writer believes small isolated trials can often fail but the theory is sound that small healthy changes can add up to big results and long term studies of school wide schemes need to be undertaken to establish how successful en-mass change can be to lowering the childhood obesity problem.
This writer believes we must implement school wide change to see real results to the next generation’s attitude towards personal health, well-being and sedentary behaviour. Our children’s potential lifespans are expected to be 5 years shorter than our own, so obviously real change is required urgently.
One such way to accomplish this is the implementation of standing desks in every classroom. Some schools is the US have gone entirely standing and whilst this may be far off into the future for UK schools hundreds of schools are adopting flexible seating such as our own Eiger student standing desks into their learning spaces and the anecdotal positive physical and mental health benefits being reported are significant.
One study of standing desk classrooms discovered a reduced BMI of 5.24% after just 12 months. Meanwhile standing students are 16% more likely to engage in class as they are more focused and remain on task longer.
Implementing physical literacy with standing desks, BBC super Movers, The Daily Mile and school running clubs such as marathon kids demonstrate an adoption of the school wide method. No one service, scheme or product is a silver bullet but used together in a school wide change will allow you to adapt and mould the next generation’s attitude towards movement and health to divert the course we are currently on.
With genuine effort to effect change we can give the kids their 5 years back and get their faces out of screens and into the fresh air so they become habitually active. Active kids are statistically more likely to become active adults and suffer less disease and ill health.
Only time will tell if we do enough but small changes stack up and doing nothing because sometimes health schemes don’t measure well isn’t going to contribute to the greater good.
Combine your efforts with your pupils, with parents, with your different departments and your local businesses to show your community you are a health positive school by adopting some health-centric ideals. If you want to talk to us about how we can help then get in touch for a try before you buy trial or just to talk through how our desks can work with your existing programs for health.
The government has been called upon in a report released by the outgoing Chief Medical Officer Dame Sally Davis to adopt her recommended policy changes designed to directly tackle childhood obesity.
The report entitled "Time to Solve Childhood Obesity" asks politicians and policy makers to focus the lasers of their policy making to etch out a future for our children which includes creating and shaping our towns and communities so there are healthy transport options, access to affordable healthy food, and a barrier against often despicable junk food marketing.
Since 1990 obesity levels amongst our children has risen by a whopping 50%. Attributable not only to the emergence of entertainment technology which encourages sedentary lifestyles but also our diets and availability / uptake of physical activity spaces.
Childhood obesity is a real issue that will undoubtedly increase pressures on the NHS over the coming decades as the unhealthy children of today become unfit and obese adults who are statistically more likely to develop health concerns as a result of their weight. These can range from diabetes, heart conditions and cancers to the development of mental health problems as a result of inactivity and isolation.
In short, obesity is the enemy and in the absence of a silver bullet to tackle him, measures need to be taken to ensure we are all fit enough to escape him.
The report stresses a need to put our children’s health above the profits of corporations. This is particularly poignant in light of the recent controversial deal agreed this month by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and KP Snacks.
There are 53,000 fast food outlets in England and more than half of them are within 400 Meters of a primary school. The marketing towards children is aggressive and uses social media influencers to create unhealthy behaviour patterns by exposing children to junk food mascots and their online heroes indulging in energy products and unhealthy snacks.
The report asks politicians to take a leaf out of history and in the same way that policies of 1965 protected children from cigarette advertising on TV and the 1989 policies ensuring seat-belts are put on children in cars that modern day politicians should exercise their ability to shape the future landscape by using the law to change our children’s lives for the better.
Startling facts such as unhealthy food being three times cheaper are highlighted throughout the report which quite rightly explains we as a nation are not doing enough to ensure our populations future health. Suggestions on how VAT could be applied differently to healthy versus unhealthy foods illustrate how policy can encourage businesses to adopt healthy ranges over their more expensive unhealthy alternatives.
The road map to combating childhood obesity is a much needed and hopefully it doesn’t fall on deaf ears before it’s too late and the new crisis is a failing NHS due to a spike in obesity related disease and death.
The report main principles being recommended are as follows.
• Re-balance the food and drinks sold to favour healthy options, through regulation.
• Allow children to grow up free from marketing, signals and incentives to consume unhealthy food and drinks.
• Introduce innovative policies that find the win-wins for children’s health and the private sector: E.g. continue private sector sponsorship of major sporting events, facilities and stars, but only allow advertising and sales of their most healthy products on site.
• Invest in and design the built environment to create opportunities for children to be active and healthy.
• Take action to improve: exercise and healthy weight in pregnancy, breastfeeding rates, and infant feeding.
• Ensure schools and nurseries play a central role, supported by Ofsted monitoring. Teachers know that being overweight impacts on children’s lives and they need support to do the right things. Food, drink and physical activity standards should be set and adhered to in all schools and nurseries.
• Ensure our NHS and health sector workforce can deliver what our children and families need to prevent, manage and treat obesity, including having conversations about weight and tackling weight-related stigma.
• Make better use of data to guide practice: e.g. systematically link and share data on children’s weight to intervene early; share private sector data, such as supermarket sales data, with policymakers and researchers
• Protect and prioritise our children’s health and rights while making trade deals. Their health and a healthy environment must come above company profits.
• Develop the evidence base to inform practice and policy.
Those wishing to read the full report can do so here.
Standing Desks for Children's Health
Standing Desks are being implemented by Schools wishing to take responsibility for their pupils health and well being. A "try before you buy" trial of the Eiger Standing Desk is available for your classrooms. Just fill in a simple form and we'll get you started. Here's the form.
Schools can use pupil and student support premiums to fund the cost of desks and join hundreds of other education centres in the UK to send a message to their communities that they are proactively tackling in-school sedentary habits.
The 10th October is World Mental Health day. Schools and organisations through the UK will be donning yellow and running in-house initiatives to stimulate the conversation about mental health problems amongst young people and workers across the UK.
Most of us know by now that Mental health issues should no longer be stigmatised and creating open, honest dialogue amongst young people will ensure future generations treat mental health without stigma and with as much importance as their physical health.
This culture is already firmly embedded in the USA however by comparison the UK's attitude towards caring for our own mental health is only now moving away from the stiff upper lip attitude of ignoring the problem and focusing on more tangible issues to one where holistic approaches and talk therapy are only now becoming regarded as good solutions not indicative of someone being a weak or less manly human being. In the UK last year a total of 6507 suicides were registered by coroners. This is the highest level in the last 15 years and represents an 11.8% spike increase on the previous year. All time highs for young people and young girls were also reported.
One in four people are affected by mental health problems every year. Mental health issues amongst men are rife. Mental health problems can be common conditions such as anxiety and depression or rarer, more complicated problems such as schizophrenia or episodic bouts of mania but whatever is affecting you or your loved ones help is available.
If you don't perceive yourself as having mental health problems it is still important to keep looking after your own mental well being. The organisation MIND has some helpful tips on looking after yourself and building positive relationships.
THINK ABOUT WHATS AFFECTING YOUR WELLBEING.
Common life events can affect your mental well-being and we all deal with what life throws at us differently. Bereavement, loneliness, relationship problems, work and money are all stressors in life and possible causes of disruption to your mental well-being.
SOMETIMES YOU CANT PUT YOUR FINGER ON IT
Mental health can be a consequence of external forces such as those listed above or can come from something innate within. You might be more susceptible to internal causes of mental problems if you have suffered from neglect, or childhood trauma, isolation or discrimination. Homelessness or health conditions. Poverty, unemployment or being in a position where you’re responsible for caring for another person. Even traumatic events such as military service or being a victim of crime can all be the causes of current or future mental illness.
MINDs website reminds us that no matter the reason for your low mental health you deserve to be happy. There are steps you can take to improve how you feel.
WHAT CAN YOU DO TO FEEL BETTER?
MINDs site explains we should aim to build positive relationships, make time for those we love, join groups and talk about how we feel. Volunteering can be an excellent way to combat loneliness and keep your mind active.
They suggest mindfulness and being present in any given moment can help udo to focus your emotions thoughts feelings and help you to accept the world around you. There is a dedicated “bemindful” website for more information on the importance of mindfulness and courses you can take to learn the technique.
Learn Something New
Learn a new skill or take up a new hobby to give yourself achievable goals and remind yourself that you can accomplish your targets. Start small. Read A Book, Bake a cake, learn a new instrument or language or simply start a new art or craft. Learning new things can boost your confidence and self-worth.
Here are 8 relaxation tips to boost your mental health.
If you want more tips on looking after your mental health in everyday living visit MIND here where you can read other blogs detailing tips on combating depression and find out new ways to combat low mental health.
Just remember even if you’re not suffering from mental health problems yourself, being a listening ear or a supportive friend can make a difference to someone you love.
So it’s worth understanding how to achieve good mental health and spotting the warning signs or poor mental well-being so you can ensure you AND those around you stay safe and well.
Standing Desks allow you to move freely and feel less stagnant when you work, they improve blood flow and encourage regular breaks which can act as good mental health breaks.
We asked Nick White, MD of iwantastandingdesk.com to explain to us why Standing desks are a great way to encourage positive mental health.
"The simple act of standing improves brain function, by increasing oxygen levels, glucose levels and vitally dopamine production. Using a standing desk as part of a healthy lifestyle can only contribute positively to to physical and mental well-being. " - Nick White MD, I Want A Standing Desk.
The sedentary lifestyle that has become so commonplace amongst young people is responsible to numerous illnesses such as diabetes and many more obesity related cancers. One group of non-movers these days are video gamers. Many can be so hooked on their games that they sit for extended periods of time without regular breaks to play the latest instalment of their favourite game. Just. One. More. Go.
Now in reality we don’t have any extra lives so what can you do to make sure you’re as healthy as possible when undergoing your gaming marathon?
Now aside from the obvious advice of ensuring you undertake regular exercise breaks (At least an hour a day to meet optimal recommended standards) it’s worth noting that gamers have also started to take up standing desks as a way to stay health positive whilst undertaking long gaming sessions and not stopping what they love.
A number of our customers have told us the Eiger Pro desk has become a perfect companion to change their gaming setup to a standing based one whilst online Twitch streamers are also starting to get in on the action as their dream job now means being sat all day has almost become an necessary evil.
Well the standing desk solution for gamers means you'll be more inclined to make micro movements and take regular breaks to stretch your legs. Taking a minute to eat, stretch, hydrate or empty your bladder can keep your energy levels up keeping you on your game and in the best possible health and position to win.
Early reports has taught us that competitive games are seeing the benefits of integrating standing into their everyday setup as it helps them feel more mental acuity and focus. i.e. Standing is literally keeping them focused and on their game.
Gamers all know that when you get tired physically or mentally you start to slip. Making school boy errors and letting you teams down. We’re not giving you the old “how do you do fellow kids” here this has been tested by gamers who testify that gaming upright puts you in exactly the right mental state you need to be top of your game.
Not Us, Honest.
We all know how much better you play when you lean forward right? Well standing just multiplies that and focuses your mind by increasing the blood flow around the body and supplying oxygen to your brain and your extremities much better than if you’re playing from the couch.
It seems StandUp To Cancer the Cancer Research UK and Channel 4 fund raising initiative hasn’t failed to notice the connection between gamers and the sedentary lifestyle and they have setup a campaign which encourages players to take on a gaming challenge to raise cash for life saving cancer research. Donning it up in your favourite games in unique and interesting ways during a fortnight of Fundraising from 11-25 October with a link to your JustGiving page is all you need to do to get involved. There’s a helpful sign up page to get stuck in right here.
To find out how easy it is to get involved you see more about the campaign here.
For total streaming noobs, Yogscast have produced a tongue in cheek video on how gamers can set themselves up a fundraising stream on Twitch, Youtube or other platform here.
So you can attempt a gaming marathon, go for a record or (and we think this a goer!) Literally stand up to cancer by taking on a gaming standing challenge and show people how easy and important it is to stay fit and healthy when you game and how much you benefit once you break through the angst barrier.
I want A Standing Desk will contribute £20 to Stand-Up To Cancer for every one of you raising money for this month’s campaign using any of our standing desks... and we have just launched the perfect accessory to your gaming challenge in the Eiger Pro Plus for those clever tech folk who need the extra real estate to power up their dual monitor game streaming setup.
The Eiger Pro Plus holds to the same exceptional design standards as the Eiger Pro but also includes a top shelf which will fit two monitors on. It retails at £227 +VAT and includes Free delivery and would be the perfect desk mate to your gaming record breaking.
The product is so early days we don’t have our typical shmanzty photo-shoot shots yet but here’s a sneak peek for those who like to be an early adopter you can get in touch to order the Pro Plus now and we'll organise it by special order.
So what’s stopping you gamers? Get hydrated, get standing and get your game face on to raise money for Cancer Research. Cancer is the new end game boss and it beats over 9000 young people each year. This is your turn to take it down and smash those numbers to oblivion by doing what you love.
Please keep us updated by social and we will happily signal boost any stand up to cancer gaming challengers. If you can’t undertake the fundraising but want to donate directly to Stand-Up To Cancer you can do this here.
This week is European Week of Sport! Punctuated on Wednesdays National Fitness Day @FitnessdayUK
This week European Week of Sport reminds us that inactivity is a leading factor in poor health and it's time to get involved and get active. Organisations such as schools, Gyms, recreation centres and activity events across the country are opening their doors and providing free activities throughout the week and particularly on Wednesday which is also National Fitness Day.
Nearly half of all EU citizens don’t do any sport. The growing sedentary epidemic is responsible for the increased rates of heart disease, diabetes and obesity related cancers. The initiative now in its fifth year aims to raise awareness on the benefit and positive impact of sport staying active.
Last year’s participation was outstanding as 13 million people took part in 50,000 events supported by 47 partner organisations in 42 countries from Ukraine to Malta.
Events being put on include Salsa events in the middle of London, runs, fencing, martial arts, yoga and dancing. The hashtag #beactive is being used on social media throughout the week so spread the word with this hashtag and let’s help to get it trending.
Those wanting to learn more about the event and how they can participate should check the website out here.
Whilst yesterday saw Mind hosting #MindfulMonday a series of events across the country showing how sport can support mental well-being. Wednesday’s National Fitness Day is considered the most active day of the year when hundreds of schools, workplaces, gyms and leisure centres how events up and down the country.
Thursday is the Day of Opportunity focusing on giving young people the chance to try multiple new and exciting activities from rowing to boxing and more. Friday brings a day of inclusivity, Saturdays Festival in Cardiff will have giveaways, performances and parkour whilst the evening culminates in Ministry of Sound playing host to a series of workouts at their iconic dance venue and an extra special club night.
Schools wanting to increase their pupils physical literacy and promote healthy lifestyles can opt in to a try before you buy standing desk trial here.
The same week the vast majority of teachers have moved against high stake primary school testing such as SAT's via a ballot of members at the UK's largest Education Union another news piece has surfaced indicating that the majority of Head teachers are against mandatory baseline testing of primary school children on entry to primary school.
54,500 primary school teachers voted en-mass against the SATs means of testing as it negatively impacts children’s mental health and puts schools under undue pressure to hit benchmarks the government can hold them accountable to. Nick Gibb, the school standards minister however said that this number doesn’t even represent half the profession and that the tests had been around since 1990 and are designed to improve the standard of teaching in our schools.
Despite Gibbs insistences it seems the general consensus from head teachers is that the government are insisting on mandatory tests in order to measure the schools progress and an initial test to be used as a yardstick from which progress can be measured. However head teachers have argued vehemently that the £10 Million it will take to implement the newly proposed baseline testing for primary school joiners is completely unnecessary and the pitfalls of introducing this system include labelling children who speak English as a second language or those with SEN needs could be "unnecessarily labelled as low-ability"
“We already have an appropriate baseline that does not take staff too much time,” one teacher wrote. ”The baseline is used to identify gaps in learning and development for the staff to support the child, not locked away for seven years.”
Research carried out by staff at University College London’s Institute of Education surveyed 288 head teachers and only 8% of which spoke positively about the suggested testing regime due to become mandatory in 2020.
Some head teachers suggested some schools will “game” the system by underpreparing pupils for the baseline test in order to show greater demonstrable improvements when the government revisits and measures against the initial results.
Jill Robinson of More Than a Score who commissioned the head teacher interviews said;
“Heads agree with education experts and parents: this scheme is a waste of everyone’s time and a waste of £10m,”
“It has no basis in academic theory or even simple logic. It is simply another way for the government to judge schools, using unreliable and unfair testing methods.
“A batch of reception pupils will be used as guinea pigs when they should be settling into school and the government still can’t tell us how they’ll use the data which will be extracted from these four-year-olds.
“It’s time for the DfE to admit failure and halt the roll-out of this pointless and damaging experiment."
Parents tried to oppose the plans via a legal challenge however this was overturned at the high court.
A spokesperson for the DfE said that the baseline checks are simply standardising the way schools carry out their own baseline checks.
“We are confident that the reception baseline assessment will lighten the load for schools, which will no longer have to carry out whole-class assessments at the end of year two, or deal with the test papers and administration that comes with that, while also being stress-free for children.
“We have been listening carefully to feedback we have received throughout the development process to ensure we get the experience right for pupils and schools.”
We are certainly in a time where education staff are at odds with the government as to the best way to measure the success of UK education standards and one way or another change is going to be required to find common ground between both parties’ priorities. A SATS strike occured this year and the majority of voting teachers at the large union meeting had voted in favour of this action so from one year to the next our children could be having vastly different experiences.
The National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) and the National Union of Teachers (NUT) staged the boycott which meant that nearly 200,000 children missed the SATs. This inconsistency is without a doubt not in our children’s interest in this writer’s opinion however if it results in the reduction of high stress testing of our young learners then it may well be what they call a necessary evil.
Wherever you lie on this issue we'd love to hear from you in the comments or via out social channels.
The Decathalon Activity Index 2019 has shown that 77% of Parents are more active than their children. The survey asked parents to compare activity levels with their kids and even when including P.E. lessons a huge 77% of parents said they exercised more than their kids.
If the parent’s child is adult then the figure shot up to 93% showing a huge disparity in (self-perceived) exercise levels between generations. Our children have a 5 years shorter expected lifespan due to the sedentary crisis and given that only 11% of family’s say they exercise together this shows that not enough is being done at home to combat the problem.
Schools who integrate standing desks into their classrooms are doing their bit by stimulating movement and physical literacy but a truly combined effort is the only solution when we look to make a culture shift back towards healthy active lifestyles for our children. Failure to do this sufficiently well, experts say will bring incredible strain to the NHS when sedentary kids become unhealthy, unfit adults with burgeoning health issues associated with obesity such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
"We are increasingly disturbed by how often the statistics are showing us that children are just not active enough and the alarm bells haven’t set off across the country yet. Sadly this is the kind of problem that doesn’t make the headlines until the health issues it creates culminates in our NHS coming to a standstill."
- Nick White, Managing Director iwantastandingdesk.com
Parents and schools who want to combat childhood inactivity can invest in student standing desks like the Eiger Student Standing Desk. Schools can request a try before you buy trial for this here.
In July the government published the School Sport and Activity Action Plan where the government outlines their intent to make it so kids have the ability to partake in the recommended 60 mins of physical activity every day. The plan is due to updated later in the year.
This image shows how 80's kids were more active than today's youth.
Currently only 17.5% of children meet the required activity levels and this is going to need to dramatically improve if the government’s plan to halve childhood obesity by 2030 by supporting schools and parents enabling kids to lead healthier more active lives is to be realised.
Further reading: Schools May Be Kept Open for Sports in Holidays
The Government’s Sport and Activity Action Plan
A recent study featured in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health has linked sitting for extended periods of time to approximately one in ten deaths each year in the UK.
Speaking of modern day workplaces the lead author said they “represented a significant proportion of unavoidable daily sitting time for many people”.
A recent article on the REBA website explains how in 2016/17 1.3 million people suffered from work related ill-health which according to government guidance translates into 25.7 million working days lost affecting business on the whole to the tune of £32 Billion a year.
Research shows happier, healthier people are more productive. This counts for students in education who when standing engage 16% more and office workers who when happy are more productive by a whopping 31%. Research by Talent Works International shows 10 times fewer sick days are taken by happy employees.
Healthy work-spaces and mental and physical health being seen as a top priority helps businesses attract and retain employees and shows that education spaces prioritise physical and mental well-being of their students which can attract new starters as more and more parents are keen to ensure their children are staying healthy in the classroom environment. Some parents even going as far as to urge schools to go entirely standing.
Sedentary behaviour is responsible for a multitude of illnesses and has caused our children’s estimated lifespans to be 5 years shorter. There is a proven relationship between inactivity and cancers, heart disease, stroke and diabetes. The NHS is expected to buckle under increasingly accelerating stress if measures aren’t put in place by the government to tackle obesity and sedentary culture in the UK population. Efforts such as the governments proposed School Sport and Activity Action Plan aim to improve physical health culture in young people by keeping schools open for summer holiday sports sessions and more.
The government's cycle to work scheme is estimated to have saved the NHS over £5 billion as a result of participants being healthier and less likely to require treatments. Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, chair of UKActive is calling for a nationwide cultural shift encouraged and supported by the government and to be embraced by all businesses in order to affect the nation’s health and our businesses bottom lines.
Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson
If you are interested in workplace well-being programs you can visit UKActive to find out more. Schools wanting to introduce standing desks to their learning spaces can sign up to a try before you buy trial here.
Source: Tanni Grey-Thompson on the need to combine efforts to tackle sedentary workplace cultures.
In other News I want A Standing Desk has been featured by Feedspots Top 50 Education Blogs here. So thank you for the shout out Feedspot and thanks to our readers for your support.
BBC Panorama has reported that an Academy head ordered her staff to cheat on Sat’s tests.
Suzanne Barham spoke to TV documentary Panorama and details how she was instructed to provide the answers to pupils that were struggling in the 11 year old test environment.
"We were told to go and work with specific children and to give them a little help.
"That's what happened, those children were given answers.
"You know it's not what should happen. You know it's the wrong thing, it's not going to help the children."
Citing a fear that she would lose her job if she didn't do as instructed Barham told Panorama she also was ordered to change test scores at three schools in 2017.
The Academy is effectively being dissolved and enveloped by another trust. Silver Birch says the current trustees cannot be held responsible for its earlier actions.
The trusts chief Exec Patricia Davies allegedly also ordered Barham to help children cheat in a reading exam.
"Mrs Davies called me into her office, and it's a reading paper, so you can't read it to them, and she said, 'I want you to read it for them'.
"I said, 'but it's a reading test.' She went, 'yes, I know'.
"You did what Pat told you to do, otherwise, you knew you wouldn't have a job, and so I read that paper."
Parents understandably were not happy to hear about the cheating. One Mother was stood at the gates when children came bounding out delighted they had been allowed to cheat
"The boys were quite vocal, as they thought it was funny, they thought it was hilarious: 'We cheated, we cheated, they let us cheat'.
"They were skipping up the hill screaming it out."
Startlingly the Standards and Testing Agency have investigated the allegations of cheating and let the results stand. The BBC have written about one girl who witnessed a teacher walk up to her desk during an exam and point at an answer saying "That’s the answer" the girl said “I was so annoyed. I just looked at her like, 'what are you doing, this is a test'."
Barham explained that the trust gave her sheets of paper with the actual results on and specific results scrubbed out with a request to change them in order to falsify and inflate how well the school was doing.
She resigned when the academy was taken over by another trust.
The academy is closing due to financial issues.
Labour and the Lib Dems have pledged to abolish Sat’s testing in favour of teaching “not to the test.”
A ballot of 54,000 primary school members of the NEU showed that 97 percent backed the campaign to scrap the tests which have been heralded as damaging to children’s mental health due to the high pressure environment and anxiety inducing process.
The criticisms of Sat’s testing often come from the fact that they exist as a means for schools to be measured against one another as opposed to having the welfare and education of the pupils at the forefront.
“Test-driven primary assessment is damaging children’s mental health and wellbeing; it intensifies the stress on teachers. Preparing children for Sat’s squeezes out other parts of the curriculum.”
- Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the NEU
The BBC have produced a short video documenting their interviews with three primary school head teachers who say they feel completely unsupported by the government when it comes to offering mental health support to their pupils.
The BBC say there has been a 50% increase in referrals to mental health services for pupils aged 11 and under in the last 3 years.
"I think the government needs to decide whether they want us to be social workers and mental health workers or educators."
- Sue Blair, Pennine Way Primary School
Staff members at Pennine Way School were said to have cried together over the things they have been told by their pupils with mental health needs. They have seen children who self-harm on the premises by banging their heads against walls.
Freedom of information requests have shown that there have been 191 self-harm incidents within school walls since 2015.
"I find it really abhorrent, there's nothing that we can realistically do, that is going to give the child the help that that child needs."
Clem Coady, Head teacher, Stoneraise School
One in 10 primary school children aged five to 10 has an identifiable mental health condition. In serious cases schools are told to escalate the issues and refer to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) One head teacher explained how they are still waiting for feedback on a child who has serious mental health concerns two full years since the referral.
According to the Royal College of Psychiatrists "Services for children have been historically underfunded." One head teacher cites the UK being the 5th most powerful economy in the world and asks why we still under nourish the support for mental health in young people despite those challenges being well on the rise alongside the over-use of handheld devices and reliance on screen time being directly linked with a greater likelihood of children developing depression . (See the research here)
The head teachers are crying out for help and support whilst the government company line says they are "determined to improve mental health support for kids." Stating that 345,000 more children and young people with have access to specialist mental health care by 20232/24.
Meanwhile it's clearly evident that schools are ill equipped to handle the increasing rise in mental health issues emerging in modern society and unless the government does follow through on these promises the issues are only going to become a greater tax on our economy as under supported children become problematic adults with un-tackled issues and mental health problems which have been long standing since primary school.
CAMHS refuses to accept that a child can be considered depressed before they are 7 years old and this in itself means they deflect requests for support when a school flags a pre-7 with said issues. This lack of qualification and rebuttal just isn’t working and it remains to be seen how schools will be affected as if the issues continue to rise at the same speed as the last 3 years.
Standing desks and flexible seating options in the classroom are reported to help children alleviate anxiety, tension and have a tendency to generally improve student mental health.
If you want to try before you buy and trial Eiger Student Standing Desks in your School you can fill in the form on this page and we'll get the ball rolling.
Watch the piece by the BBC you'll no doubt find yourself in agreement that it's time to tackle the white elephant in the classroom.