A top girls’ school is running laughter therapy lessons to help pupils combat stress and anxiety.
Staff at Brighton Girls – formerly Brighton and Hove High School – hope the hour-long sessions will improve wellbeing amid high levels of depression among children.
The Royal College of Psychiatrists recently reported that almost 200,000 young people have been referred to mental health services in the past three months – nearly double pre-pandemic levels.
Experts believe that laughter decreases cortisol levels, increases endorphins and boosts happiness. Studies show that laughter strengthens the immune systems.
Staff at Brighton Girls – formerly Brighton and Hove High School – hope the hour-long sessions will improve wellbeing amid high levels of depression among children
Specialist laughter therapist Emma Jennings, who runs the classes at the £15,000-a-year school, said: ‘Lockdown has meant there has been so much more anxiety for children. They have been isolated, and no amount of Zoom contact can make up for that.
‘These sessions are about developing the camaraderie that being together and doing something fun engenders while physically boosting their health and wellbeing.’
The classes are currently being taught to 11-12-year-old girls. However, there are plans to expand them to all year groups as well as teachers, parents, and students.
Headteacher Rosie McColl said: ‘Young girls have a lot on their plates whether it’s doing their schoolwork or dealing with social media pressure. We thought it would be great to introduce a purely fun class, which they can walk away from having felt a drop in stress levels.’