Mental Health and Wellbeing
Definition of Mental Health and Wellbeing
“Mental health is 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.”
(World Health Organization)
Mental Health and Wellbeing is not however, just the absence of mental health problems. In order for the community to have positive mental health and wellbeing, we want all pupils and stakeholders to:
Feel confident in all that they do
Be able to express emotions appropriately
Make and maintain positive relationships with others
Cope with the stresses of everyday life
Know how to manage stresses and deal appropriately with change
Enjoy every day that they come to school.
Teaching about Mental Health
The skills, knowledge and understanding needed by our pupils to keep themselves and others physically and mentally healthy and safe are included as part of our PSHCE curriculum.
The specific content of lessons will be determined by the specific needs of the cohort we’re teaching but there will always be an emphasis on enabling pupils to develop the skills, knowledge, understanding, language and confidence to seek help, as needed, for themselves or others.
We will follow the PSHCE Association Guidance to ensure that we teach mental health and emotional well being issues in a safe and sensitive manner which helps rather than harms.
We believe that the school has a key role in promoting children’s positive mental health and providing them with strategies to prevent a decline in individual mental health throughout their school life. Additional activities include:
Whole school activities
Themed weeks/days linked to mental health awareness
Assemblies led by pupils and staff
Play Leaders– a group of Key Stage 2 pupils selected at the start of each academic year who are on ‘duty’ at break and lunch times to support with any issues
Displays around school about themed days on mental health and self-regulation (Zones of regulation)
ELSAs (Emotional Literacy Support Assistants) are trained to plan and deliver timely programmes of support to pupils in their school who are experiencing temporary or longer term emotional needs. The majority of ELSA work is delivered on an individual basis, but sometimes small group work will be appropriate, especially in the areas of social and friendship skills. The priorities for an individual pupil will be identified in discussion with other staff in the school. Each session has its own objective, either something the ELSA wants to achieve or something for the pupil to achieve, that builds towards the longer term aims.
Children are usually referred for ELSA support by their Class Teacher, Senior Leaders or the SENDCO. Every half term, referrals are reviewed to identify and prioritise which children require a weekly programme for the next 6-8 weeks. With the programme aims in mind, we then plan support sessions to facilitate the pupil in developing new skills and coping strategies that allow them to manage social and emotional demands more effectively.
It needs to be appreciated that change cannot necessarily be achieved rapidly and is dependent upon the context and complexity of the presenting issues. For children with complex or long-term needs, it is unrealistic to expect ELSA intervention to resolve all their difficulties, however support will be designed to target specific aspects of a child’s need. Training and development of ELSAs is an ongoing process and wisdom is required to recognise when issues are beyond the level of expertise that could reasonably be expected of an ELSA.
In ELSA we aim to provide support for a wide range of emotional needs:
• Recognising emotions
• Social skills
• Friendship skills
• Anger management
• Loss and bereavement
Early Identification and Warning Signs
All staff will be vigilant in identifying a range of possible difficulties that may be contributing to a pupil’s poor mental health, including:
Approach to learning
Negative behaviour patterns
School staff may also become aware of warning signs which indicate a pupil is experiencing mental health or emotional wellbeing issues. These warning signs should always be taken seriously and staff observing any of these warning signs should communicate their concerns with the designated safeguarding lead. Possible warning signs include:
Changes in eating/sleeping habits
Becoming socially withdrawn
Changes in activity and mood
Talking about self-harm or suicide
Expressing feelings of failure, uselessness or loss of hope
Repeated physical pain or nausea with no evident cause
An increase in lateness or absenteeism
All staff receive regular training about recognising and responding to mental health issues as part of their annual child protection training, in order to enable them to keep pupils and staff safe.