Our Children's Wellbeing
Mental health and emotional issues often develop during adolescence. Half of young adults with mental health issues have symptoms by the age of 15, and nearly 75% by their late teens. For those aged 5-19 years, suicide is the second most common cause of death (ONS, 2015).
Social media peer pressure, bullying, family units breaking down and an increased number of children in the care system have all been suggested as contributing factors to the rise in mental health issues in younger people. Many of these issues affecting mental wellbeing are multiple and often remain undetected and untreated unless agencies such as schools take an active role (Partnership for Wellbeing and Mental Health in Schools, 2015).
Despite the focus in recent years, some young people still do not get the support and care they need. This can happen because there is a stigma associated with mental ill health. Young people may be reluctant to seek professional help or discuss mental health with friends and family because of their concerns about what others will think.
Young people may lack the insight to realise that they need help or that help is available. Some mental health issues can cloud clear thinking and decision making. A young person experiencing such issues may not realise that they need help, that effective help is available, or may be so distressed that they are unable to think clearly about what they should do.
GPs, counsellors, psychologists, psychiatrists and other professionals can all help young people experiencing mental health issues. However, just as with accidents and other medical emergencies, such assistance is not always immediately available when an issue first arises.
This is when key figures in the young person’s life, such as parents, teachers, tutors, carers, and youth workers, can offer aid and guide them towards the appropriate professional support.
Although once seen as an optional extra, it has become clear that work in schools to promote mental health and wellbeing is central to overall effectiveness and should be prioritised. Recent evidence from Public Health England confirms that:
- Children with greater wellbeing and lower levels of mental health issues achieve higher grades, better examination results, better attendance, and drop out less frequently
- Academic achievement is more accurately predicted by social and emotional skills than by IQ
- The quality of PSHE (personal, social, health and economic education) in a school is strongly correlated with the school’s overall effectiveness
As mental health becomes an increasingly recognised concern, the most recent Ofsted inspection framework includes a new judgement on “personal development, behaviour and welfare”. Section 6.9.2 states that inspectors will be “looking to see that learners are knowledgeable about how to keep themselves healthy, both emotionally and physically”.
With the above in mind the Southwark Diocesan Board of Education Multi-Academy Trust want to offer the best support to our young people and ensure that each of our schools and learning environments are safe and inclusive places where those in the need receive the best support.
This is a fundamental aspect of the Trust’s vision to enable all children and young people in our schools to realise their God-given potential, aspire to exceed their expectations and to build a Christ-centred community
To enable us to deliver our vision and support Youth Mental Health on an ongoing basis within our schools we are taking the following seven measures.
1. YOUTH MENTAL HEALTH FIRST AIDERS
Each school within our Trust will have a minimum of two accredited Youth Mental Health First Aiders (YMHFA) who will champion our strategy within their own schools. They have:
- An in depth understanding of young people’s mental health and factors that affect wellbeing;
- Practical skills to spot the triggers and signs of mental health issues;
- Confidence to reassure and support a young person in distress;
- Enhanced interpersonal skills such as non-judgemental listening;
- Knowledge to help a young person recover their health by guiding them to further support – whether that is through self-help sites, their place of learning, the NHS, or a mix – engaging with parents, carers and external agencies where appropriate;
- Ability to support a young person with a long term mental health issue or disability to thrive.
2. ACCREDITED TRAINED YMHFA INSTRUCTOR
One of our own highly experienced Headteachers is also an accredited trained instructor in YMHFA who is responsible for training others within the Trust and who is a lead on our Youth Mental Health agenda
3. NQT TRAINING
We are enhancing our annual NQT training programme by including an additional module on youth mental health to better equip new staff and provide them with a greater understanding of the issues and where advice and support can be found.
4. NPQML PROGRAMME
We are also enhancing our Middle Leader NPQML programme with an additional module specifically focusing on youth mental health
5. LESSON RESOURCES
As part of the training programmes we are also developing additional resources to enable mental well-being to be incorporated into our teaching and everyday lessons. This will include an online knowledge base for all staff to access these resources.
6. EMPLOYEE ASSISTANCE PROGRAMME
All our staff are able to access emotional support through our Employee Assistance programme which offers a 24/7 counselling telephone line as well as follow up face-to-face counselling where requested.
7. INSET TRAINING
Within each of our schools, at least one INSET day each year will have a MHFA training component which will enable all staff to develop a better understanding of Youth Mental Health issues and how we can support our young people.