Further advice and support for schools is available at Solgrid’s Emotional wellbeing and mental health pages.
Positive emotional wellbeing and mental health is fundamental to all our lives and to the communities in which we live. It underpins everything that we do, how we think, feel, act and behave. It impacts on learning. Investing in children’s emotional wellbeing and mental health is as important as attending to their physical health as it underpins positive outcomes in childhood and successes in future adulthood.
The Department for Education publication, ‘Mental Health and Behaviour in Schools’ (March 2015) is particularly useful for schools. It cites the Mental Health Foundation’s (2002) ‘A bright future for all: promoting mental health in education’ description of children who are mentally healthy as having the ability to:
- develop psychologically, emotionally, intellectually and spiritually;
- initiate, develop and sustain mutually satisfying personal relationships;
- use and enjoy solitude;
- become aware of others and empathise with them;
- play and learn;
- develop a sense of right and wrong; and
- resolve (face) problems and setbacks and learn from them.
Annex C in the document provides a brief description for schools of the main types of mental health needs and summarises which approaches other professionals might use following diagnosis.
A ‘Mental Health Toolkit for Schools’ was launched in October, 2016. The toolkit aims to raise awareness amongst school and college staff of the range of validated tools that are available to help measure subjective mental wellbeing amongst the student population. This, in turn, will help school and college leaders make use of school and college level data to identify the mental wellbeing needs of students and determine how best to address these.
Potential school support
- Ensure that the culture of the school is conducive to feeling safe, to positive emotional wellbeing and to developing resilience.
‘School should be a safe and affirming place for children where they can develop a sense of belonging and feel able to trust and talk openly with adults about their problems.’
DfE: Mental Health and Behaviour in Schools
- All staff should understand that mental health is a safeguarding issue that forms part of their duties around safeguarding.
- All staff should be aware of the risk factors that make some individuals or groups more vulnerable to developing mental health difficulties.
- Schools should consider training to support them in identifying and supporting pupils, and adults, at risk. Mental Health First Aid training courses for schools can be accessed at firstname.lastname@example.org. Solihull’s SEMH team also provides training.
- Schools should consider whether a referral is needed to Solihull’s emotional wellbeing and mental health service. This replaced CAMHS on 1st April 2015.
Many schools and education providers are now considering creating their own Mental Health Policy. A framework and guidance on this has been developed by Pooky Knightsmith on behalf of the Charlie Waller Memorial Trust.
Curriculum (Universal provision through planned PSHE)
- Children and young people should be taught, through a planned and developmental programme of PSHE, to name and manage their feelings, how to look after their own emotional wellbeing and mental health and how to access help and support
- ‘Schools should focus on developing children’s resilience, confidence and ability to learn.’ (Mental Health and Behaviour in Schools, DfE)
- The PSHE Association has published guidance on preparing to teach about mental health and emotional wellbeing. In addition, accompanying resources and lesson plans are available for Key Stages 1 to 4.
Updates and changes
These pages are updated regularly and should be used as the main source of information. Printed versions should be used with care as they can become out of date.