Clare Erasmus is the newly appointed Director of Mental Health & Wellbeing at Magna Carta School. She has been kind enough to agree to share her journey through a series of regular blog posts. Please take time to read, support and question.
Implementing a Youth Mental Health & Wellbeing program in your school. Part 2.
Once your school has taken the 1st step to staffing the MH & Wellbeing department then you need to set up the infrastructure. The Mental Health and Wellbeing department is just that; a *New* Department. It should be resourced with people, space and a budget.
This department should not be tucked away in some closet on the periphery of the school – it must be in the epicentre of the school’s matrix. The MH and Wellbeing department should ideally feed into and feed off every section of the school. Create a visually exciting space which is big, bold and beautiful.
You will be sending out a crucial message to your students, staff, parents and the community that you place highest on the school’s agenda – the mental, emotional and physical wellbeing of your students and staff.
Write it into your School Development Plan with two targets: A MH and Wellbeing objective for staff and one for students. It must be a dual approach line managed by SLT. This sets up accountability, reporting but most importantly a whole school vision.
When tackling the MH & Wellbeing school policy I found Dr Pooky Knightsmith @PookH and the incredible work of The Charlie Waller Trust @CharlieWtrust extremely helpful. The template provided is superbly detailed and has thought of everything you need to adapt it into a policy for your school. Refer to it on a monthly basis refining it as you go.
Have a presentation ready for staff on one of the first INSETS back and Explode the negative myths around the words ‘Mental Health’ & ‘Wellbeing’
• It is NOT the school nurse rebranded
• It is NOT about glibly ‘molly coddling’
• It is NOT about Mental Health being someone else’s problem
• It is NOT about letting the children get away with not wanting to be in lessons
• It is NOT a choice between ‘academic focus OR wellbeing ’
Be clear about it means for your school.
• It IS an initiative which is a direct result of the student feedback
• It IS part of the school development
• It IS where all staff recognise we all have Mental Health and that people with mental health challenges should not be marginalised but instead supported the same as those with physical health difficulties
• It IS where the WELLBEING Centre is regarded as valuable and as integral to supporting students’ mental health as SEN is respected in terms of supporting students learning needs.
• It IS where we recognise ‘One shoe’ does NOT ‘fit all.’
• It IS providing a space which will be open every day for face to face support for those children who need it.
I once posted on twitter:
“Imagine schools prioritising creativity, care, compassion, community, the devt of the person as well as skills needed 4 the economy? Imagine!”
WE DON’T NEED TO IMAGINE. WE NEED TO DO IT.
Clare Erasmus is currently Director of Mental Health & Wellbeing and Head of Creative Media Studies at a comprehensive secondary school in Surrey. Over the last 10 years she has collaborated with students and overseen major anti-homophobia and anti-bullying campaigns which have gained national recognition. ‘Homophobia – our closeted education’ was a film produced in 2011 by the students and has since been used by over 200 schools in training staff and students on what is homophobic language. In 2015 she embarked on a whole school mental health and wellbeing program which amongst many things involved the students creating their very own bespoke mental health & wellbeing app called My TeenMind. Recently, Clare also helped organise and host the UK’s first Youth Mental Health & Wellbeing Teachmeet.
She has also recently been announced as the runner up for the 2015/16 Community Champion Award . The Community Education Awards recognised Clare for making an outstanding contribution to helping children become positive community members.
Tweet Clare @cerasmusteach
If you have an idea, experience or resource you’d be interested to share via my blog, please email me: firstname.lastname@example.org