Mental health is a state of wellbeing, in which an individual realises his or her own ability, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and is able to make contributions to his or her own community (W.H.O 2014)
Our vision is underpinned by John 10:10 ‘Life in all its Fullness’ in order for our children to live and breathe this vision, mental health and wellbeing is essential
Over the course of their education, children spend over 7,800 hours at school.
With such a huge amount of time spent in the classroom, school plays a central role in promoting the health and wellbeing of the children within our care. Our curriculum, specifically our ‘Learning for Life Curriculum aims to ensure our children have the skills to thrive after they have left South Bersted. This includes providing an ideal environment for promoting good emotional wellbeing; identifying early behaviour changes and signs of mental distress and giving children the strategies to manage their own emotions effectively. The social and emotional skills, knowledge and behaviours that young people learn in the classroom can help them to build resilience and set the pattern for how they will manage their mental health throughout their lives.
Emotional wellbeing is a clear indicator of academic achievement, success and satisfaction in later life. Evidence shows that mental health and wellbeing programmes in schools, can lead to significant improvements in children’s mental health, and social and emotional skills. Wellbeing provision in schools can also lead to reductions in classroom misbehaviour and bullying.
What is mental health?
How do we promote good mental health and wellbeing?
Our approach to mental health and wellbeing aligns with the 5 ways to wellbeing approach:
- Give – showing acts of kindness within school, this is supported by our school vision and values. Values such as Koinonia, teach children to support each other. We also support an annual charity through our school council. As part of our positive approach to behaviour management, pupils are also rewarded Green Dojos for displaying ‘Acts of Kindness.’
- Connect – relationships are key to wellbeing and relationships between staff, at every level, and children are strong. Staff take the time to build relationships with children and their families.
- Be active – children participate in regular physical ‘brain-breaks’ and we aim to participate in 2 hours of quality PE a week as well as regularly completing the ‘Daily Mile.’
- Take Notice: Our staff promote wellbeing activities through Nurture groups and School PSHE and wellbeing weeks. Staff also take notice of changing behaviours within children to ensure early detection and intervention if a problem begins to arise.
- Keep Learning: our curriculum is diverse and engaging for children. The school’s ‘Learning for Life’ curriculum also gives children access to new skills outside of the national curriculum including: outdoor learning – whittling, sawing and programmes such as ‘The Junior Medic Programme.’
What do we do when concerns arise around Mental Health and Wellbeing?
Child voice is crucial in understanding difficulties in mental health and wellbeing. As a school we recognise that no mental health difficulty is the same and that listening to the voice of the child and the family builds the foundation to support. We follow a multi-step approach:
- Understand the difficulty through talking and listening.
- Develop an individualised plan to support the child and the family in school and meet regularly to review the plan and the progress.
- Use interventions if appropriate including: Nurture Group, ELSA time or Time to Talk.
- Make referrals if necessary, including to CHMLS and the School Nursing Service.
- Support both the child and the family – ensuring parents and carers have the strategies needed at home.
Helping families understand mental health and wellbeing in children and adults:
Anxiety: MIND defines anxiety as:
‘Anxiety is what we feel when we are worried, tense or afraid – particularly about things that are about to happen, or which we think could happen in the future. Anxiety is a natural human response when we perceive that we are under threat. It can be experienced through our thoughts, feelings and physical sensations.’
Anxiety is common and everyone experiences anxiety some of the time. Some of the ‘normal’ anxiety children and adolescence may experience is explained in the table below. It is important to note that there is no ‘right’ amount of worry. Worry becomes a problem when it stops an individual from living the life they want to live, or leaves them feeling demoralised or exhausted.
|Developmental Age||Normative Fears|
|Infancy (0-2 years)||· Separation anxiety
· ‘Stranger danger’
· Loud noises
· Large objects
|Early Childhood (3-6 years)||· Imaginary creatures
· Sleeping alone
· Thunder and other natural events
|Middle Childhood||· Thunder and other natural events.
· School Performance.
· Social Competence.
|Adolescence||· New experiences
· School Performance.
· Natural Disasters.
· Social Competence.
Mental Health linked to COVID19:
Some children and young people have enjoyed being off school, while others have found it challenging with the coronavirus outbreak keeping them at home and away from friends. Others may be coming to terms with personal challenges such as loss or changes to their living situation.
As restrictions lift in some places, they might also face difficulties in being back at school, or have worries about getting or passing on the virus. It’s also still uncertain what further changes we all may face.
Feelings like these will gradually ease for most, but there are always steps you can take to support them emotionally and help them cope with problems they face.
On the COVID – 19 section of our website, there are a number of texts that you may wish to share with your child to deepen their understanding of virus in an age appropriate way.
What to do if you are finding things challenging?
- Parenting or caring for a child or young person can be tough. It’s important to make sure you look after your own mental wellbeing, as this will help you support yourself and those you care about.
- Try to recognise and acknowledge when you’re feeling low or overwhelmed. Struggling with something or experiencing your own mental health problems does not make you a bad parent or carer.
- It’s completely normal to be worried, scared or helpless during difficult times, and feeling this way is nothing to be ashamed of.
- Is there a friend, fellow parent or carer you trust enough to tell how you’re feeling? Maybe there’s family, friends or a colleague who could support you or allow you a break? Talk to the school as they could help support you by directing you to help services.
- There’s plenty of help out there. You should never feel like you have to cope on your own.