Supporting good mental health at school
We aim to protect and promote positive mental health and wellbeing for our whole school community: pupils, staff and parents, and recognise how important mental health and emotional wellbeing is to our lives in just the same way as physical health. We recognise that everyone has mental health. We take a whole school approach to promoting positive mental health that aims to help pupils become more resilient, be happy and successful and prevent problems before they arise, ‘Mental health is not extracurricular’ (Mental Health Foundation).
The Department for Education recognises that ‘Good mental health is important for helping children and young people to develop and thrive’. Our role in school is to ensure that children are able to manage times of change and stress, be resilient, are supported to reach their potential and access help when they need it. We also have a role to ensure that pupils learn about what they can do to maintain positive mental health, what affects their mental health, how they can help reduce the stigma surrounding mental health issues and where they can go if they need help and support.
Our aim is to help develop the protective factors which build resilience and be a school where:
- All pupils are valued
- Pupils have a sense of belonging and feel safe
- Pupils feel able to talk openly with trusted adults about their concerns in a non-judgemental way
- Positive mental health is promoted and valued
- Bullying is not tolerated
We use the World Health Organisation’s definition of mental health and wellbeing ‘A state of well-being in which every individual realises his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community’.
We want all children to:
- Feel confident in themselves
- Be able to express a range of emotions appropriately
- Be able to make and maintain positive relationships with others
- Cope with the stresses of everyday life
- Manage times of stress and be able to deal with change
- Learn and achieve
- Creating an ethos, policies and behaviours that support mental health and resilience
- Our behaviour policy sets out to ensure that everyone; pupils, their families, staff and visitors to our school understands and adheres to school rules and expectations. We recognise the effect a calm, organised and productive atmosphere has on a child’s learning, self-esteem and health.
- Behaviour expectations are consistent throughout the school.
- Staff are to treat children fairly and sensitively, to listen to them, to hear both sides of any disagreements and facilitate restorative conversation.
- We have clear routines throughout the school day. These are shared with children and support their wellbeing by providing a daily timetable.
- Helping pupils to develop relationships, support each other and seek help if necessary
- Our PSHE curriculum provides children with the tools to build positive relationships and respect people’s differences.
- The curriculum nurtures a supportive environment and demonstrates to children how to be a good friend to somebody if they need help.
- All children are encouraged to speak to an adult if they need support and are given praise for doing so.
- Helping pupils to be resilient learners
- Staff create a learning environment where children are not deterred by mistakes and are confident to persevere in their learning.
- Children are told how to ask for help in their learning and how to learn from mistakes.
- Teachers provide feedback on children’s work and encourage editing and self-evaluation.
- Teaching pupils social and emotional skills and an awareness of mental health
- A high quality and structured provision for PHSE will give children knowledge, understanding, and skills and help them explore and develop attitudes and values to live healthy, safe, fulfilled and responsible lives.
- We set ground rules, particularly when teaching sensitive topics such as Relationships and Sex Education, to ensure that pupils discuss topics with respect and listen to the views of others, as well as ensuring that pupils and staff do not disclose personal information.
- We recognise the role that stigma can play in preventing understanding and awareness of mental health issues and aim to create an open, positive culture.
- Effectively working with parents and carers
- We recognise the important role parents and carers have in promoting and supporting the mental health and wellbeing of their children.
- On first entry to the school, our parent’s meeting includes a discussion on the importance of positive mental health for learning. It is very helpful if parents and carers can share information with the school so that we can better support their child.
- We provide information and websites on mental health and local wellbeing and parenting programmes.
- Supporting and training staff to develop their skills and resilience
- Our staff receive regular mental health training, including Mental Health First Aid and guidance from the Department for Education on the health element of the PSHE curriculum.
- We believe that all staff have a responsibility to promote positive mental health and to understand about protective and risk factors for mental health.
- Staff should have the skills to look out for any early warning signs of mental health problems and report to the SLT. It is imperative that pupils with mental health needs get early intervention and the support they need.
- All staff understand about possible risk factors that might make some children more likely to experience problems; such a physical long-term illness, having a parent who has a mental health problem, death and loss- including loss of friendships, family breakdown and bullying. They also understand the factors that protect children from adversity, such as self-esteem, communication and problem-solving skills, a sense of worth and belonging and emotional literacy.
- Early identification and planning to support to mental health needs
- Our identification system involves a range of processes. We aim to identify children with mental health needs as early as possible to prevent things getting worse.
- Analysing behaviour and attendance.
- Staff report concerns about individual pupils to the Senior Leadership Team and the SENDCo.
- Gathering information from a previous school at transfer or transition.
- Induction meetings for parents of pupils in EYFS.
- Staff are aware that mental health needs such as anxiety might appear as noncompliant, disruptive or aggressive behaviour which could include problems with attention or hyperactivity.
- If there is a concern that a pupil is in danger of immediate harm then the school’s child protection procedures are followed.
- If there is a medical emergency then the school’s procedures for medical emergencies are followed.
In some case a pupil’s mental health needs require support from a specialist service. These might include anxiety, depression, self-harm and eating disorders. We have access to a range of specialist services. These include:
- CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service)
- Family Support Service
- School Nursing
- Child councillor
- Educational Psychologist
School referrals to a specialist service will be made by the DSL/SENDCo following the assessment process and in consultation with the pupil and their parents and carers. Referrals will only go ahead with the consent of the pupil and parent/carer and when it is the most appropriate support for the pupil’s specific needs.
Once support is in place from a specialist service, school has regular contact with the external agency to review the support and regularly consider next steps. This forms part of the pupil’s support plan and this is regularly reviewed. Persistent mental health problems may lead to pupils having significantly greater difficulty in learning, than the majority of those of the same age. In some cases, the child may benefit from being identified as having a special educational need (SEND).