“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, 2014).
Positive mental health is essential if children and young people are to flourish and lead fulfilling lives.
Good mental health and wellbeing is just as important as good physical health. Like physical health, mental health can range across a spectrum from healthy to unwell; it can fluctuate on a daily basis and change over time. Here at St Thomas à Becket Primary School we are committed to supporting the health and wellbeing of our pupils and staff to ensure that the school is a community where everyone feels able to thrive.
Two key elements to support good mental health are:
- Feeling Good – experiencing positive emotions like happiness, contentment and enjoyment. Including feelings like curiosity, engagement and safety.
- Functioning Well – how a person is able to function in the world, this includes positive relationships and social connections, as well as feeling in control of your life and having a sense of purpose.
At our school, we know that everyone experiences life challenges that can make us vulnerable and at times anyone may need additional emotional support. We take the view that positive mental health is everybody’s business and that we all have a role to play.
Our role in school is to ensure that children are able to manage times of change and stress, and that they are supported to reach their potential or access help when they need it. We believe that teaching about mental health and emotional wellbeing as part of our PSHE (Personal, Social Health and Economic) curriculum is vital. Children are taught when to seek help, what help is available, and the likely outcome of seeking support so that they have the confidence and knowledge for themselves or others. We also have a role to ensure that children learn about what they can do to maintain positive mental health, what affects their mental health and how they can help reduce the stigma surrounding mental health issues. As part of our targeted provision, we have and continue to access, outside help and support for pupils when required.
Levels of support
- Universal Support– To meet the needs of all our pupils through our overall ethos, school values and our wider curriculum. For instance, developing resilience for all.
- Additional support– For those who may have short term needs and those who may have been made vulnerable by life experiences such as separation or bereavement.
- Targeted support– For pupils who need more differentiated support and resources or specific targeted interventions such referral to wider professionals.
Some of the ways in which we support mental health and well-being
Mindfulness: Paying attention to the present moment – to your own thoughts and feelings, and to the world around you is known as “mindfulness”. This awareness can can improve mental wellbeing by helping us to enjoy life more and understand ourselves better. It can improve a child’s ability to focus and can be a great help in times of stress when used as a way to calm down. All teachers plan mindfulness activities throughout the curriculum as well as brain breaks and team-building excercises.
World Mental Health Day and Mental Health Awareness Week are included in the school calendar and teachers plan activities for their class.
ELSA – Emotional Literacy Support Assistant: Mrs Elka Priddin is a qualified specialist Teaching Assistant who works across the school to support all children’s mental health so they are happy and able to reach their potential educationally. ELSA LEAFLET
Forest School lessons: All classes have regular Forest School lessons which offer the opportunity to achieve and develop confidence and self-esteem through hands-on learning experiences in an outdoor environment.
Yoga: We have recently started weekly Yoga lessons to provide our pupils with skills to release stress and to connect.
Physical activity: As well as regular PE lessons and after school sports and dance clubs we encourage active playtimes. We have arranged activities such as a skipping workshop and a circus skills day. As well as increasing general fitness and happiness, these activities develop co-ordination, concentration, co-operation, and communication; skills needed across the curriculum.
Dealing with anxiety – https://tutorful.co.uk/guides/the-expert-guide-to-help-your-child-with-anxiety
Young minds parents’ survival guide – https://youngminds.org.uk/find-help/for-parents/parents-survival-guide/
Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families – https://www.annafreud.org/parents/
NHS Mental Health Services – https://www.nhs.uk/mental-health/nhs-voluntary-charity-services/nhs-services/