“People with learning disabilities demonstrate the complete spectrum of mental health difficulties, with higher prevalence than found in those without learning disabilities.”

(Source: Mental Health Nursing of Adults with Learning Disabilities)

The promotion of positive mental wellbeing is currently being reviewed in education as a result of the recent publication of the Transforming Children and Young People’s Mental Health Provision: a Green Paper, with calling out for a ‘Happiness Ofsted’, it’s certainly a developing and exciting area of educational reform.

Remaining truthful to our core values of quality, inclusion and innovation, The Orpheus Centre’s Learning Team decided to put on a Wellbeing Week that would aid the development of positive wellbeing strategies for all of our learners.  In an exciting departure from our usual ‘produce-a-show-in-a-week’ intensive weeks, we chose to develop learning programmes for a ‘non-intensive week’ which would include internal and external practitioners/therapists delivering sessions on: mindfulness, yoga, aromatherapy, healthy cooking, cinema therapy, sound baths, art & music therapy, and a whole range of other activities.  These activities decided in order to expose learners to opportunities they may not have otherwise have experienced, so that these could be reflected upon and, if necessary, built into individual Wellbeing Plans.

The week culminated with a Wellbeing Fair to showcase, promote and celebrate a range of resources and techniques which had developed physical and mental health within our learners.

Students at the Orpheus Centre are already able to access a range of therapies and strategies to develop and promote their wellbeing as appropriate to individual needs, but this week offered the opportunity for all of our learners to experience a range of therapeutic activities, providing them with vital tools for managing their lives.

The typical struggles that arise in the transitionary period of young adulthood can be difficult to navigate for anyone, but this can be exacerbated if you have not yet developed a ‘resilience toolkit’.  Sometimes this can be as simple as going for a walk or spending time with friends, sometimes this can finding a quiet space to meditate and gain perspective, sometimes this involves experienced support from vital services such as mental health.

The legacy of this hugely successful week is that we are reviewing our curriculum so that we are able to incorporate space for practises such as mindfulness and the promotion of sensory therapies as part of personalised learning programmes.

If you are interested in finding out more about this hugely successful week, there are highlights videos below, or alternatively you can contact The Orpheus Centre at [email protected].

Day 1

  • Visit from a PAT Dog (Pets As Therapy) – Learning about how pets can be therapeutic.
  • Alive With Flavour – Healthy breakfast foods and snacks.
  • Laughter Therapy – Laughing as stress relief.
  • Supporting Good Listening – How to support others and be a good listener.
  • Craft Workshop – Creating artefacts to promote concentration and wellbeing.
  • Meditation Sessions – Promoting quiet time with thoughts.
  • Party Dance – Using dance movements to promote happiness.

Day 2

  • Mindfulness – With experienced practitioner Teresa Gain.
  • Vegetable Gardening – Exploring how gardening skills can promote wellbeing.
  • Sports – Taking part in team activities and building relationships through physical activities.
  • Sound Bath – Exploring sound as a sensory, healing practice.
  • Hand Massage – Learning how to give a hand massage which relaxes and reduces anxiety.
  • Aromatherapy – How essential oils can promote health and wellbeing.
  • Pilates – Developing core strength and physical flexibility.

Day 3

  • Singing & Movement – Promoting wellbeing through singing as a group.
  • Love Rocks – Creating art on rock-canvases and sharing them with the world.
  • Mindful Movement – Learning how nature can inspire movement and dance.
  • Crochet & Pom Pom Making – Using knitting techniques to focus attention and create artefacts.
  • Art Therapy – Self-expression through artistic techniques.
  • Cinema Therapy – Self-reflection and connection as a result of film viewing and discussions.