Review: Adolescent Mental Health by Dick Moore
‘Dancing not Drowning in the Rain’
On Thursday 29th November 29th Dick Moore delivered a poignant message to the Hundreds; simply, ‘Everyone is vulnerable to mental health problems. The only thing weak about being vulnerable is not asking for help’.
(75% of the population will experience a mental or emotional disorder during their lifetime.)
Dick’s experience as a prep school head and ‘house husband’ at a girls’ boarding school was evident as he jovially engaged his teenage audience. He began by sharing the story of his own family, a family just like all of us, privileged, educated, successful, but they are a family who have experienced the tragedy of a son/brother who took his own life as a result of depression. Through this shocking event the passion to change how young people are prepared to cope with the emotional storms of life, for them to learn how to recognise and regulate their emotions, to become resilient and able to interact with the world, has become his life’s mission. His genuine, personal vulnerability and authenticity underpins the attention he commands.
The attention, the stillness and the listening from the Hundred was palpable.
Dick’s key messages of self-knowledge, self-care and the importance of seeking help were conveyed using a combination of stories (some funny, some sad), music, film and animation. He also encouraged awareness of behaviour and mood of those around you, a friend or family member, as they too may need help. He gave clear ways of determining emotional health through a series of questions and how to identify anxiety, stress or depression and recognise self -harm as a reflection of internal mental distress.
His talk challenged the stigmas surrounding mental health using some hard-hitting facts and statistics in order to stimulate this debate. They also brought efficacy to his message ‘you are not alone’.
In order to ‘dance in the rain’ and not ‘drown’ Dick had clear advice. Find something which helps you release your emotions; music, poetry, art, a run, photography… whatever it is, know what works for you. He gave a ten-point self-care plan. Many known and obvious maybe, but we still need to hear them and be reminded of them; less than six hours sleep a night is not enough, to name but one!
Did the Hundreds feel liberated being told don’t be perfect, don’t believe you need top grades to be happy, accept your emotions for what they are, negative or positive? Hopefully they did and hopefully they felt the invitation to laugh, at some point every day, was possible. Their follow-up discussions in house will be an opportunity to determine their own thoughts and responses to these suggestions. The available support within College and the opportunities to seek help will be reinforced.
Last year, we were struck by the amount of information our son retained from an hour-long presentation. It was a fascinating and illuminating discussion over a family supper which made me aware of how we lose touch so quickly and easily between the generations; how different the world and its demands appear to our young. Thankfully, Marlborough College does recognise this.
Marlborough College has been fortunate to have Dick lead Youth Mental Health First Aid Training for the last six years. During this time over 100 staff have received this training with priority being given to boarding house staff.
Dick is an associate Trainer for the Charlie Waller Memorial Trust. His website, which I would urge you to visit, can be accessed by clicking here.
Here is an animation recommended by Dick to the Hundred.
Review written by Helen Stamp (current parent).