Agora International Schools have implemented the Body, Mind & Spirit programme to encourage self-knowledge and personal growth in students.

In the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, gymnast Simone Biles announced her retirement from the competition due to the pressure and stress caused by the continuous episodes of anxiety she had been suffering. It seems that this was one of the triggers that brought to the forefront the need to pay attention not only to physical health, but also to mental health.

We need to take care of our minds as much as we take care of our bodies. And indeed, as a reminder that the mental health of every individual is the solid foundation for building full and satisfying lives, World Mental Health Day  is celebrated every 10th October.

Body, Mind & Spirit, a programme for self-knowledge and emotional management

Agora International Schools, proud members of Globeducate, understand that one of the keys to building full and satisfying lives and, in general, to looking after mental health is education. Laying the foundations of self-knowledge and emotional management in childhood will allow us to build people with fulfilling lives.

With this in mind, the Body, Mind & Spirit programme has been implemented in Agora International schools, with the focus of working on skills to strengthen the physical and mental health of students by teaching techniques that will help them to understand the present and the future.

This programme, developed and endorsed by psychologists and experts, was created in response to the effects of the pandemic. It aims to promote the physical and emotional health of students and coaches students on how to make sense of feelings of uncertainty, isolation and fear of the unknown; emotions they may not be aware of and how to  manage them.

A programme that is more important than ever

In June 2020, the Spanish Association of Paediatrics warned of the rise in referrals to Mental Health Services in Primary Care Paediatric Services. “We are seeing an increase in consultations for anxiety, obsessive-compulsive symptoms, depression, self-harm, and eating disorders,” said Dr Azucena Díez, President of the Spanish Society of Child Psychiatry in the AEP, in a statement. Since last autumn, psychological emergencies in children and adolescents have increased by 50%. It was Azucena herself who told Ser Padres that these figures were only the tip of the iceberg of what is expected in the coming months: an increase in mood disorders, anxiety and, more seriously, also in adolescent suicides.

But where exactly is the origin of this maelstrom of mental health problems that has been unleashed in children and adolescents since the pandemic began? In the words of Azucena Díez, much of the blame lies with the continuous changes in their social routines, as well as the anxiety and stress caused by concerns about the health situation. “Uncertainty has been, perhaps, one of the most determining and difficult factors to manage, to which must be added the distance from their most habitual care-givers, especially grandparents, the reduction in outdoor activity, the absence of routines or the abuse of screens, among others”, said the expert last June.

What is ‘Body Mind & Spirit’?

This programme comprises activities which focus on working on emotional fatigue, adaptation to change, stress management, empathy, resilience, cultural tolerance and concentration, among others. Many of these activities also help to maintain physical and emotional balance. All of these activities take place at the Agora Expedition Centre – in a spectacular environment located in Andorra, Pyrenees.

The programme runs for several days, with the students able to enjoy the surrounds of the Agora International School Andorra boarding house, as well as the natural surroundings and fresh air.

Workshops include one which deepens their self-awareness on social networks and establishes healthy routines, one on mindfulness directly in the mountains, and one focused on learn orienteering and survival skills, in teams. Students also take part in activities such as trekking, observing the night sky by spending a night in a mountain refuge or a ginkana with exercises designed to meet the specific objectives of the programme. The programme also includes seminars led by experts in personal growth and self-improvement with messages designed for this age group.

08 / 10 / 21