Managing Wellbeing in your school

Wellbeing is a term that has come into the forefront of our minds in recent years, as the education industry has rightly recognised the need to look after the mental health of its students - and its staff.

90% of school leaders have seen an increase in the number of students experiencing anxiety and stress over the last five years, according to research by Young Minds

Social media, exam pressure, poverty, loneliness, isolation, family breakdown and unsettled ethnic minorities are all impacting on the youth of today. 10% of young children have a diagnosable mental health problem, according to The Mental Health Foundation - yet 70% of children and adolescents who experience mental health problems do not have appropriate help. There is more accountability on schools to provide the right support for students.

At Glove, we are delighted to work with some of the schools and colleges who are driving awareness of this issue, providing training and advice to those working in education, and here, Lisa Fathers, Director of The Alliance for Learning at Bright Futures Educational Trust (and the secondary school representative on Greater Manchester’s Children’s Health and Wellbeing Board), provides some top tips.

Provide confidential support

All of BFET’s schools have at least two objective mental health first aiders that the students can talk to. The students might not always want to talk to a family member or teacher they know, so offering this support is vital.

Train the staff

The Alliance for Learning Teaching School’s Mental Health First Aid programme trains school staff to understand mental health issues and develop knowledge and understanding of how to provide appropriate support to students. It also looks to help staff develop ways of reducing any stigma around mental ill health and encourages their capacity for leadership around wellbeing in their school communities.

Promote the issue

In 2015, the government announced £1.25bn in extra funding for mental health, however, funding constraints mean an increasing number of schools are scaling back on mental health services such as in-school counsellors.  The government needs to keep mental health high on the agenda in schools.

Keep people active

The value of physical exercise has been recognised for some time in the field of education. It has so many benefits - on the playing field, in the classroom and outside of school altogether. It encourages a team ethic, improves health, increases concentration, forms bonds and drives confidence in young people. I’ve seen first hand the incredibly empowering effect it can have on students of all ages and abilities. The Youth Sport Trust runs a range of programmes and the Mile a Day initiative is proof of the value of physical activity.

Understand social

Social media is relentless. As adults who did not grow up with social media, it is our responsibility to understand it and how it can potentially impact on a young person’s wellbeing. Training for all staff is vital so that the right terms and a level of understanding is there, should it be needed by the students.

Communicate with families

It is part of our job to communicate with families and carers - and the subject of wellbeing should be no exception. Provide advice in email or letter format, work with the PTA, offer one to one sessions and if timings allow, host talks around the subject of wellbeing and mental health in young people.

Students all have the right to wellbeing and health support. It is our duty as education providers to deliver this.

John BrennanComment