Academic success and mental well-being are one to each other. While opportunities abound in today’s technologically-advanced world, growing dependency on all things social media bring much higher stakes on what it takes to succeed.
Students are not exempt from these new pressures. Family and school support have never been more important, especially in times of transition – like the relocation to a foreign country or a new type of school.
Despite this, grades and exams still hog the spotlight, often at the expense of students involved. Emotional support for is yet to reach satisfactory levels. Surveys show that access to therapeutic support for children and young people with mental health needs are still insufficient across countries like the UK, US and Australia.
But investing in mental and emotional wellness in schools has huge pay-offs. Dedicated teachers can change students’ lives, turning a stressful event like relocation into one for personal growth.
Promoting wellness enables students to excel. Class performance has been found to improve if early intervention on symptoms of depression, anxiety or general stress are taken. Rates of absenteeism and the likelihood of dropping out go down, too. Putting students’ well-being on an equal footing as their academic performance means everyone wins – from the student and their future aspirations, to their parents as well as the schools themselves.
This is especially true for boarding schools. Students here are typically at a crucial development stage in their lives, and the everyday stresses from transitioning from a normal school or living at home to a more independent way of living should not be underestimated or taken lightly.
This experience of living in a new place, studying their interests and developing their passions should be exhilarating rather than stressful. Dedicated support, both for academics and well-being, means schools can ensure this for them.
And while there are hundreds of boarding schools to choose from today, these are the three that stand out today for innovative approaches to student well-being:
Branksome Hall Asia (BHA), an IB World Continuum School located in the South Korean island of Jeju, is the sister school of Branksome Hall in Canada. It shares the mission, vision and traditions with the independent Canadian girls’ school, which holds two centuries of remarkable and international award-winning history.
At Branksome Hall Asia, student well-being takes centre stage. Residence life here is designed to empower young women with confidence and the skills to succeed. The Residence Faculty is a professional and caring group of women with experience in the areas of residential living, growth and development of young women, and in a number of academic subject areas.
A ratio of one teacher to 10 students is maintained, so each learner is accorded the care and individual attention they deserve. Quality is assured from qualified staff members – all Teacher Dons are university graduates and most hold teaching degrees, which makes them well-prepped to offer academic guidance and support.
Residence Faculty members are also 100 percent dedicated to the Residence students and are not assigned to additional roles in the school. Although many are involved with after school activities, their top priority is the well-being of Residence students.
With such priority on student health, Branksome Hall Asia students are primed to make the most of the holistic education offered here. Programmes are balanced, individualised and include off-campus exploration, mindfulness, academic support, leadership opportunities and social events.
The importance of infrastructure isn’t forgotten. Branksome Hall Asia senior school students each get individual student bedrooms with an ensuite bathroom, as well as access to communal facilities like a fitness centre, 50m pool, library, dance and yoga studios, design and art studios.
The goal of British International School, Phuket (BISP) is to prepare students for ‘a life worth living’. Though the school understands each life is unique in character, it also recognises the fundamental importance of aspiration, virtue and wisdom as the foundations upon which to construct such a life.
At this English medium, co-educational, day and boarding school, students don’t just receive pre-school, primary and secondary school education of the highest international standards, but also high-quality boarding accommodation and world-class facilities.
The curriculum is based on the National Curriculum of England, leading to IGCSE examinations, followed by the International Baccalaureate Diploma programme.
In keeping with its commitment to the pursuit of excellence, the school has created Academies that take interested and committed students way beyond the confines of exams or extra-curricular programmes. As a result, many have achieved success on the international stage, embarking on professional careers straight out of school.
Over 850 students from over 60 nationalities call this place ‘home’, empowered by the explicit aim of preparing each young person for ‘a life worth living’.
“The school has reached the milestone of its second decade, and has established itself as an innovative institution with a strong commitment to student well-being, additionally producing young people with the necessary skills and emotional mind-set to meet the challenges of a fast developing world,” says BISP Headmaster Neil Richards.
Well-being is at the core of Shattuck St Mary’s School’s philosophy. Far from just helping students live independently, teachers and administrators here understand that emotional support has a positive impact on student engagement and performance, helping them prepare for college.
The School ensures parents remain connected to their children. To do so, Shattuck-St Mary’s lets parents log onto its intranet to view their child’s schedule, assignment and test grades, attendance, and comments from teachers. Webcasts are available for a variety of on-campus events, from senior speeches, to athletic competitions and performing arts.
Located in South East Asia’s first ever green city, Forest City, each student is assigned an advisor who meets with them regularly and offers academic counsel. Boarding Students are supervised by teachers and coaches who serve as “dorm parents”, living in residence halls and serving as on-site parents for all. It’s a home away from home – with Kuala Lumpur just three hours away and Singapore just across the Straits of Johor.
Weekends are set aside for students to explore and unwind. On Saturdays, students get free time to swim, or work out in the Fitness Center, play basketball, tennis, badminton or volleyball, relax in the Student Center, do laundry or revision. On Sundays, students take trips to nearby attractions in Southeast Asia’s first ecologically-green city for shopping, entertainment, outdoor adventures or community service projects.
*Some of the institutions featured in this article are commercial partners of Study International