The whole field of mental health & wellbeing and of supporting young people can be overwhelming, especially when we have stresses of our own to deal with. As teachers and health professionals ourselves we acknowledge the pressures schools are under and that funding cuts can mean a reduction in pastoral staff to support children and young people who are struggling.
Building on what’s going well
Whilst we campaign for education policy that puts the well being of young people and staff at its centre, we are working alongside schools to help them promote positive mental health, to reduce stigma around mental health and to explore the effects of gender-stereotyping on both boys and girls.
Our approach is to build on what is already going well and we know that there is a lot of excellent practice already and that school staff are very committed to doing what they can to support both students and staff who are struggling.
Working with staff and young people
As part of a whole school approach to well being we recommend involving young people in as many ways possible . Some of the things our lead schools have been doing to date :-
- Having a focus group of young people (boys and girls, from a range of backgrounds) to tell them what’s going well and what could be better
- Getting students involved in making films to explore the issues above
- Delivering assemblies with films or (personal or anonymous) testimonies / stories from staff and students to “normalise” and destigmatise mental ill health (hyperlink to BC case study)
- Students setting up their own support networks in school as well as via social media
- Chill out spaces with support from E Team (Equalities Team)
- Young people helping plan / decide upon activities which enhance well being (outdoor learning, Mindfulness sessions, yoga, breathing exercises etc.,)
- Surveys and of students to find out knowledge of mental health issues and of where to get support in and out of school
- Playground buddies to support other students
- E Teams (Equalities Teams) to promote inclusion and challenge all types of discrimination
- Staff and student training in listening skills
- Training in Solution Focus skills
A whole school approach – auditing mental health and well being provision
Schools have found the B&NES Mental Health and Wellbeing audit tool easy to use and helpful in identifying strengths and gaps.
We have found film to be a really useful vehicle for engaging young people, boys and young men in particular. The young people we have worked with in the film project tell us that filming is a great way of both listening and being heard and of showing empathy and understanding.
In schools where our films have been shown there has been a change in culture amongst both staff and young people. Find out more by reading the Beechen Cliff school case study.