There is so much in the news these days, rightly so, about responses to children and young people who are experiencing and indicating signs of mental ill health – not enough funding going to the right places, CAMHS services stretched to the limit, children being admitted to adult hospital wards, schools struggling to manage children in the absence of affordable professional support.
All issues which need addressing and which highlight a growing need.
What these articles, news stories and conversations also highlight, is the reactive approach we still seem to have and, by omission, any proper discussion of the proactive approaches schools can use.
The inclusion of mental health in the Health Education element of the new 2020 RSE programme is most definitely welcomed, but are schools to wait until September 2020 before overhauling their current PSHE programmes, or even initiating any form of PSHE?
What Can Schools Do?
There are steps schools can take immediately to start introducing children to their inner worlds – the worlds of feelings and thoughts; giving children the confidence and the tools to talk about their emotions and to understand just how important feelings are.
The first step has to be an understanding and commitment by the school – a recognition that this is vital stuff!
In order to do this effectively, staff themselves need to be able to acknowledge and value the feelings and thoughts of children – to become mentalised professionals. And before that, to acknowledge and value their own feelings and thoughts.
This won’t happen overnight. Supporting staff to deliver effective lessons on mental health, emotional health and wellbeing includes not only providing staff with high-quality resources but also making time to provide CPD and staff training in critical areas.
Schools can also help staff to become more deliberate in their thinking; to avoid the language of labels when talking about children and to help to create emotionally safe classrooms and schools where children feel safe enough to talk about what they are feeling and what they are thinking.
How Can We Help?
Here at Services For Education, we have a range of resources that can help schools support their work in supporting children:
‘Ruby Rafa and Riz. Feel Think and Do’ – a charming resource, with a wealth of practice-based evidence illustrating its effectiveness and ease of use. Finalist in the Educational Resource Awards 2019
‘Myg and Me’ – introducing children to the brain and full of self-calming strategies. Helping children to become a ‘Child in Charge’.
‘Something Has Happened’ – a starting point to introduce safeguarding to children, and to help them to develop an internal measure of safety
If you’d like some more information about how we can help you with mental health and wellbeing, please do get in touch.
We’d love to hear from you.