On Friday September 10, the School welcomed Dr Dominque Thompson, who gave talks first to Form 7 students and then to parents of students in that year group, on the subjects of teenage and student mental health and making successful and smooth transitions to life beyond school.
Dr Thompson was formerly Director of Service at the University of Bristol Student’s Health Service. She is an award-winning practitioner who was Bristol Healthcare Professional of the Year in 2017. She is the founder of Buzz Consultancy and now travels the country giving talks on the mental health of young people to teenagers, parents and educators. She is the author of several books including How to Grow a Grown-Up and the ‘Wellbeing at University’ series. Dominque has also produced TedX talks and worked with Aardman animation to create a series of short films on the same topic.
Dr Thompson spoke to Form 7 about the pressures that young people can face, especially when moving on to university, and outlined some coping strategies. She used examples of celebrities who had faced difficulties early in their careers, such as the writer J K Rowing, animator Walt Disney, Rapper Jay-Z and Steve Jobs of Apple to reiterate that facing difficulties is both commonplace – and that they can be overcome. Addressing parents in the later talk, Dominique explored the evolutionary history of young people forging independent identities whilst maturing and the need for positive risk taking such as the learning of new skills. She discussed the way that an increasing competitive culture and the influence of social media can work against the latter in a way that can potentially heighten anxiety and perfectionism, then identified practical ways to overcome this. In both talks, Dominque drew on her extensive medical experience to provide information that was enlightening, engaging and empowering.
The events were part of the School’s focus on student transition and were complemented the following morning by a talk from the Careers department on the application processes for university. Dr Rachael Pearson, Head of Careers and Progression, said of the talk that ‘it was wonderful to be part of in-person events again’ and that ‘Dr Thompson’s empathetic, insightful and witty talks gave parents and students alike excellent tools for negotiating the transition to life after Oakham’.
More information on Dr Thompson, including links to Ted Talks and downloadable resources for parents and students, can be found at Student Health Wellbeing Consultant | Buzz Consulting | Bristol UK.