With mental health at the top of everyone’s priority following a difficult year, youngsters at one school have been getting involved in a range of spirit-lifting activities – and building a stronger bond with nature.

While ensuring pupils are happy and supported throughout the school year is always key for Our Lady and St Patrick’s Catholic Primary School, this week's Mental Health Awareness Week has provided the Maryport school with even more reason to put positivity at the forefront of its learning.

And it’s certainly been a mood-boosting week for pupils and staff alike, with activities from visits to the beach and outdoor meditation to sketching their favourite flowers in the playground.

“The theme for the week is ‘back to nature’, so pupils across the school are spending as much time with nature as possible,” head of school, Hillary Long, said.

“We’re trying to get the children outdoors, and make the most of being back at school, and they’re all absolutely loving it.”

The most recent activity was for the Year 3 pupils, who enjoyed an afternoon of sketching outdoors, followed by a reading session and a special meditation.

The Mental Health Awareness Week goodness doesn’t end there, with other groups enjoying additional PE sessions outside, and a trip into Maryport to learn more about artist, Lowry.

And while it’s great to discuss the importance of mental health during the national awareness week, staff at Our Lady and St Patrick’s are keen to support their pupils’ wellbeing all year round.

Ms Long said: “After such a difficult year, it’s more important then ever to be thinking about our pupils’ mental health, and making sure they’re all as happy as possible.

“We’ve found that after two lockdowns and two school reopenings, some children aren’t finding it as easy to settle as quickly into the school day as they used to, so we already have ‘calm start’ at the beginning of every day, where we have classical music playing and learn about various artists and composers.

“They’ve all really enjoyed it, and it’s helped to expand their horizons – a pupil came up to me the other day after drawing a self-portrait in the style of Picasso, and they could talk so much about him, which was so lovely.”

She continued: “We’re always doing things to make sure the children are all supported, and we do all we can to nurture them as the wonderful little individuals they are, and this week is another great way for us to do this.”