A HEADTEACHER has welcomed Instagram’s promise to remove graphic self-harm images from its site following the suicide of teenager Molly Russell.
But he said helping young people to discuss mental health issues in the first place, rather than having to resort to the internet for information, was also vital to handle the stresses of modern life.
Kenilworth School head Hayden Abbott told the Observer the move by Instagram boss Adam Mosseri was a positive move in the battle to help young people stay safe.
The announcement followed the suicide in 2017 of 14-year-old Molly, whose father has since been campaigning to ban such images on social media sites – images which he partly blamed for her death.
The government is due to publish a white paper on ‘online harms’ later this year and there are moves to legislate against social media sites publishing graphic self-harm and suicide photographs.
Mr Abbott, while acknowledging the announcement was a step forward, did not believe it dealt with the root cause of the problem.
Mr Abbot explained: “We take the welfare of our students extremely seriously. It is as important as their academic achievements.
“Protecting our students and ensuring their health and wellbeing is paramount. We are only too aware of the dangers of social media. Cases of online bullying and grooming are the ones which have previously hit the headlines and highlighted how vulnerable people young people can be.
This year the school introduced three major initiatives aimed at helping young people develop resilience and coping strategies.
Staff have been trained in mindfulness techniques – with some undergoing further, in-depth, training to help students develop confidence and improve their overall wellbeing.
All year sevens undertake mindfulness sessions during tutor time, while sixth formers can attend optional sessions every week. Students have also had an introduction to mindfulness techniques during an assembly
As a further initiative to promote the wellbeing of all students, the school has also run a series of mental health workshops for parents and children with MIND Coventry and Warwickshire.
And further support has been provided for those with special educational needs, with a particular focus on autism. A working group IASK (Improving Autism Support at Kenilworth School) consisting of parents, teachers and medical professionals from the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service has also been established.