60 seconds with our Content Manager Tracey Riseborough
"My hope is that we reach students who need help the most."
TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF, AND WHAT ATTRACTED YOU TO WORKING ON BRAINWAVES?
I’ve worked as an educational publisher for over 20 years, specialising in CPD resources for teachers around mental health amongst other things. I remember publishing a portfolio of mental health assessments for young people in the mid-noughties with a team from UCL. That was a time when wellbeing was only just starting to be talked about in schools. I’ve also worked with a great team at Glasgow University publishing one of the first anxiety and depression screeners for young people designed to be used in educational as well as medical settings.
Later, I managed a collaboration with the National Children’s Bureau to develop the Wellbeing Award for Schools. It was really rewarding to see the impact this framework had on students and staff as well as the whole ethos of schools taking part. Being part of the BrainWaves team is a brilliant opportunity to extend my commitment to improving school students’ and teachers’ wellbeing.
WHAT IS YOUR VISION OR HOPE FOR THE PROJECT?
My main job is developing the lessons that will form part of the BrainWaves educational offering. My hope is that we reach students who need help the most. It’s relatively ‘easy’ to produce lessons that engage students who want to be engaged. So, I always try to picture students sitting in the back of the class, silently enduring their depressed or anxious thoughts. They’re often too frightened to speak out or don’t know who to turn to. They’re the young people we want to help. I want the BrainWaves lessons to successfully connect with them, providing helpful information and strategies, empowering these students to make positive choices about their mental health.
WHAT IS CURRENTLY AT THE TOP OF YOUR TO-DO LIST?
Right now, I’m working on the teacher materials that will accompany the lesson plans. It’s so important to us that we’re able to help teachers deliver these lessons in ways that are effective and safe for everyone. We know that a lot of teachers who’ll be asked to implement these lessons won’t have much prior knowledge or experience of teaching about mental health. It’s a bit daunting for them. So, we hope that our BrainWaves teacher materials will boost their confidence by supporting and helping them to deliver these lessons.
IF YOU WERE NOT IN YOUR JOB CURRENTLY, WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE DOING?
I’d have loved to be a PE teacher or a sports journalist. I loved playing and watching any kind of sport in my youth – netball, hockey, athletics, football – but I didn’t feel confident enough to go into teaching at the tender age of twenty-one and couldn’t afford to do a university course in journalism. So, I fell into a publishing career instead. There’s an obvious link between exercise, sports and mental health so perhaps through the BrainWaves project I can still have an impact on young people’s education and wellbeing. I hope so!