The most important factor to implementing wellbeing within a school is to understand that it is not a bolt-on. It should be at the heart of all that is done. Therefore, everyone needs to be involved and it becomes crucial that individual schools grow their own unique style. The approach needs to be flexible enough to evolve as different interests and skills come into or are lost from a school.
Key points to consider when thinking about mental health and wellbeing in schools:
Adopt whole-school thinking – and implement it carefully, starting with a positive and universal focus on well-being, like ‘the 5-WAYS’ based on research by NEF (New Economics Foundation).
Engage the whole community – promote pupil voice, peer learning and involve parents/carers – you can then work together to achieve good wellbeing habits for your students.
Prioritise professional learning and staff development – to understand risk and resilience and to know how to respond actively to problems and difficulties. Having key staff members trained in youth mental health first aid and confident to respond, should a pupil approach them with difficulties, is a wonderful ideal.
Implement targeted programmes and interventions – schools are going to be expected to deliver support to pupils with mild to moderate low mood, anxiety difficulties and self-harm. Not all students will cope with seeing a school counsellor/therapist. Offer help in a variety of ways.
Connect appropriately with approaches to behaviour management – understand the causes of behaviour and respond wisely. Many young people, particularly boys, present with anger issues when the underlying cause is an anxiety difficulty.
Implement targeted responses – use specialist staff to initiate innovative and specialist programmes / provide clear pathways of help / anchor help in the school environment – lots of schools have created wonderful wellbeing rooms, alongside student support centres.
Mental Health and Wellbeing Training Ltd can help you implement a wellbeing strategy in your school.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.