School mental health : flipping the conversation on it’s head

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“Using Treehouse has not only opened up conversation around mental health, but it’s flipped it on its head.”

Michelle McNeil, upper Primary teacher at Kinlochleven Primary, received access to Treehouse as part of the partnership with Highlands Council. Here Michelle, shares her experience of using Treehouse with her P6-P7s and how it’s helping them to create a sustain a nurturing environment. 

“As it is only my second year of teaching at Kinlochleven, I made it my mission to go in and create a nurturing environment, where health & wellbeing wasn’t just an afterthought, but a core part of being at school. 

“We were fortunate enough to be granted access to Treehouse by Highlands Council, but even before Highlands had purchased Treehouse for all schools, I’d seen a lot about Treehouse on twitter and had read Gav’s book.

“We’ve been using Treehouse since the beginning of 2021, and the class have responded really well. It’s simple to use and the modules are basically a lesson plan so there’s no need to spend extra time preparing. 

“Using Treehouse has reinforced the environment we have been working hard to create – where everyone can be confident in expressing their feelings. 

“One specific example of ways we’ve used Treehouse includes a brilliant discussion we had around anxiety. We created shared Google Slides all about what anxiety feels like, how to identify it, and strategies to overcome it. As an additional element, I provided the class with ‘worry dolls’ that they could decorate themselves and keep. 

“What’s been really great to see is the response that the activities in Treehouse elicit. It’s not just pupils responding with pre-rehearsed answers. It’s really challenging them to open up and have meaningful conversations about the way they feel. 

“Another example of how we’ve used Treehouse was to facilitate discussion around transition to High School. We used a Jamboard to collate ideas about things that made pupils feel anxious about starting High School. 

“They came up with all sorts of things that the teachers would never have thought of. We then sent this off to the High School Senior Leadership Team to get responses to the questions, to help ease some of the worries that the pupils had. 

“It truly flipped the conversation on its head – the pupils were teaching us about how they are feeling – it allowed us to see the situation from their point of view and therefore enabled us to offer more appropriate support. 

“It’s also helping them to do the same – to understand that it’s important to try to understand other points of view.

“As we transition back to a more normal school environment in the coming weeks, health & wellbeing is going to continue to be a key focus for us. Treehouse is going to be an integral part of that, it’s a brilliant resource.”

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