Supporting Mental Health
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)
At Bridgelea Primary School, we aim to promote and nurture positive mental health for every child and staff member. We pursue this aim using both universal, whole school approaches and specialised, targeted approaches aimed at our most vulnerable children and families.
In addition to promoting positive mental health through the nurturing principles, we aim to recognise and respond to mental ill health. In an average classroom, three children will be suffering from a diagnosable mental health issue. By developing and implementing practical, relevant and effective mental health policies and procedures we can promote a safe and stable environment for children affected both directly and indirectly by mental ill health. We recognise the importance of nurture for the development of well-being and ensure this is promoted throughout the school.
As a school, we promote a positive work life balance. We seek advice from outside support agencies such as occupational health. We have policies and procedures to deal with bullying, harassment and issues of personal safety. We seek opportunities to care for the staff through initiatives and through discussions within performance and development reviews.
We have an annual staff and pupil well-being survey.
This document describes the school’s approach to promoting positive mental health and wellbeing. This policy is intended as guidance for all staff including non-teaching staff and governors.
This policy should be read in conjunction with our medical policy in cases where a child’s mental health overlaps with or is linked to a medical issue and the SEND policy where a child has an identified special educational need.
The Policy Aims to:
- Promote positive mental health and wellbeing in all staff and children
- Increase understanding and awareness of common mental health issues
- Alert staff to early warning signs of mental ill health
- Provide support to staff working with children and staff with mental health issues
- Provide support to children and staff suffering mental ill health
Lead Members of Staff
Whilst all staff have a responsibility to promote the mental health of children, staff with a specific, relevant remit include:
- Lisa Shaw - designated child protection / safeguarding lead
- Kelly Eyre - CPD lead
- Rebecca Squires - PSHE Lead
Any member of staff who is concerned about the mental health or wellbeing of a child or staff member should speak to the senior leadership team in the first instance. If there is a fear that the child is in danger of immediate harm then the normal child protection procedures should be followed with an immediate referral to the designated safeguarding lead, deputy lead or the head teacher. If the child presents a medical emergency then the normal procedures for medical emergencies should be followed, including alerting the first aid staff and contacting the emergency services if necessary.
Where a referral to CAMHS is appropriate, this will be led and managed by the Senco and Pastoral Lead.
Leaders and governors will give due consideration to the following, recognising the impact on working hours:
- Marking and feedback
- Transitions within and to another site
- Leading in a variety of areas
- Workload over the year
- Data management
- Reporting to parents
- Collaborative working
- Distribution of support staff
Feeling out of the loop can lead to stress and can be detrimental to a staff member’s wellbeing. We recognise that language is a vital means of communication so consideration will be given to:
- Communication systems (e.g. CPOMs) regarding events and situations in school
- School Diary
- Communication of appreciation, of school improvement plans and actions, policy consultation and general staff news (e.g staff briefings, access to plans)
- Good notice is given about any type of monitoring
- Work Life Balance
Whilst expecting that all staff do their directed hours in school, the governors recognise that number of hours in school is not a measure of commitment to school. They will pay careful attention to the organisation and timings of:
- PPA (Planning, preparation and assessment) time
- Curriculum release time to cope with busier periods for different areas of responsibility
- Supporting children and families to arrive at or leave school
- Flexible Working
- Governors will give consideration to part time working when it is not judged to be detrimental to the pupils.
Governors recognise that challenge and achievement are fundamental to good wellbeing. As far as finances will afford staff will receive excellent professional development and opportunities will be made available for staff who wish to further develop their careers.
Other wellbeing initiatives used in school
- Wellbeing board
- Schools Advisory Service offer
- Ensuring the staffroom is a pleasure to sit in as far as possible
- Wellbeing Team leading a variety of initiatives
- SLT termly wellbeing event
- Excellent Attendance rewards
- Christmas Advent Calendar
- Supervision offer
- A Wellbeing questionnaire is completed every year.
Teaching about Mental Health
The skills, knowledge and understanding needed by our children to keep themselves and others physically and mentally healthy and safe are included as part of our proactive and reactive PSHE 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 students to develop the skills, knowledge, understanding, language and confidence to seek help, as needed, for themselves or others.
We will follow the PSHE Association Guidance1 to ensure that we teach mental health and emotional wellbeing issues in a safe and sensitive manner which helps rather than harms. For further information please see our PHSE section in the curriculum area of the website.
We will ensure that staff, children and families are aware of sources of support within school and in the local community. What support is available within our school and local community, who it is aimed at and how to access it.
Through the Well-Being Team and the Mental Health Lead, staff will be sign posted to support services and resources to enable them to access appropriate help if needed.
We will display relevant sources of support in our entrance halls, on our website and in Retreat Rooms and will regularly highlight sources of support to children within relevant parts of the curriculum. Whenever we highlight sources of support, we will increase the chance of children asking for help by ensuring they understand:
- What help is available
- Who it is aimed at
- How to access it
- Why to access it
- What is likely to happen next
School staff may become aware of warning signs which indicate a student 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 our mental health and emotional wellbeing lead.
Possible warning signs include:
- Physical signs of harm that are repeated or appear non-accidental
- Changes in eating or sleeping habits
- Increased isolation from friends or family, becoming socially withdrawn
- Changes in activity and mood
- Talking or joking about self-harm or suicide
- Abusing drugs or alcohol
- Expressing feelings of failure, uselessness or loss of hope
- Changes in clothing – e.g. long sleeves in warm weather
- Secretive behaviour
- Repeated physical pain or nausea with no evident cause
- An increase in lateness or absenteeism
All staff, volunteers and visitors have a responsibility to report any concerns about the welfare and safety of a child and all such concerns must be taken seriously. If a concern arises all staff, volunteers and visitors must:
- Speak to the Designated Safeguarding and Pastoral Lead or the person who acts in their absence
- Agree with this person what action should be taken, by whom and when it will be reviewed
- Record the concern using the school’s safeguarding recording system
Working with Parents
- Our approach to working with parents/carers is one of transparency and honesty and our responsibility is to safeguard and promote the welfare of all the children in our care. We aim to do this in partnership with our parents/carers. In most cases parents and carers will be informed when concerns are raised about the safety and welfare of their child. Parents and carers should be given the opportunity to address any concerns raised.
- Parents and carers will be informed if a referral is to be made to the Children and Families Service or any other agency.
- Parents/carers will not be informed if it is believed that by doing so would put the child at risk. In such cases the Designated Person or Headteacher will seek advice from the Children and Families Service’s Initial Assessment Team.
- It can be shocking and upsetting for parents to learn of their child’s issues and many may respond with anger, fear or upset during the first conversation. We should be accepting of this (within reason) and give the parent time to reflect.
- We should always highlight further sources of information and give them leaflets to take away where possible as they will often find it hard to take much in whilst coming to terms with the news that you’re sharing. Sharing sources of further support aimed specifically at parents can also be helpful too, e.g. parent helplines and forums.
- We should always provide clear means of contacting us with further questions and consider booking in a follow-up meeting or phone call right away as parents often have many questions as they process the information. Finish each meeting with agreed next steps and always keep a brief record of the meeting on the child’s confidential record.
- As a minimum, all staff will receive regular training about recognising and responding to mental health issues as part of their regular child protection training to enable them to keep students safe.
- We will host relevant information on our virtual learning environment for staff who wish to learn more about mental health. The MindEd learning portal2 provides free online training suitable for staff wishing to know more about a specific issue.
- Training opportunities for staff who require more in depth knowledge will be considered as part of our performance management process and additional CPD will be supported throughout the year where it becomes appropriate due developing situations with one or more students.
- Suggestions for individual, group or whole school CPD should be discussed with our CPD Coordinator, who can also highlight sources of relevant training and support for individuals as needed.