In March of this year, the Department for Education released a document of its advice on mental health and behaviour in schools to help schools promote positive mental health.
About the Advice
It aims to help schools identify and support pupils with needs and help them make appropriate referrals to specialist agencies such as Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) where necessary. It also aims to identify and address those with less severe problems at an early stage, and build their resilience.
This non-statutory advice clarifies the responsibility of the school, outlines what they can do and how to support a child or young person whose behaviour – whether it is disruptive, withdrawn, anxious, depressed or otherwise – may be related to an unmet mental health need.
Who is this advice for?
Primary and secondary school teachers, pastoral leaders, Special Educational Needs Coordinators, designated teachers for looked after children and others working to support children who suffer from, or are at risk of developing, mental health problems.
This is a comprehensive document which gives advice on a range of topics, from factors that put children at risk, to peer mentoring, to schools commissioning services directly. The whole document can be read below, but here are a few key points that are outlined.
- There are a variety of things that schools can do for all their pupils and for those with particular problems, to offer support in an effective way. They can also intervene early and strengthen resilience with pupils, before serious mental health problems occur.
- Schools should ensure that pupils and their families participate as fully as possible in decisions and are provided with information and support. The views, wishes and feelings of the pupil and their parents/carers should always be considered.
- There are resources available to help school staff support good mental health and emotional wellbeing. They can also help to sign post staff to targeted resources when mental health problems have been identified.
- Schools should consider if their pupils would benefit from the offer of school counselling services. The Department for Education has published advice on how to set up and improve schools counselling services. Additionally, Counselling MindEd, part of MindEd, is also available to support the training and supervision of counselling work with children and young people.
- Schools can influence the health services that are commissioned locally through their local Health and Wellbeing Board – Directors of Children’s Services and local Healthwatch are statutory members.
- There are national organisations offering materials, help and advice. Schools should look at what provision is available locally to help them promote mental health.