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Partner Blog – School Mental Health Alliance

Rachel Bostwick is the Senior Partnership and Enterprise Consultant based at the Carnegie School of Education. She leads the Carnegie Centre of Excellence for Mental Health in Schools

Planning for a culture of positive mental health

The impact of poor mental health on society is all too often reflected in our schools.

Issues with mental health and wellbeing can stifle aspiration and prevent children from achieving their full potential. They put pressure on teachers too, preventing them from becoming the inspiring, creative educators they joined the profession to be. Schools have an increasingly important role to play in addressing this.

More than four hundred thousand under-18s were referred for specialist mental health support between April and October 2021 – that’s 1 in 6 children in every classroom, the highest number on record. But with services such as CAMHS under significant and growing pressure, only 1 in 3 (32%) children will get the help they need.

Emotional issues can affect the adults in school too. In just about every staff room, there’ll be a teacher feeling huge pressure to ensure their pupils catch up with lost learning or at high risk of workload burnout.

Most schools have effective strategies in place to provide support for pupils and staff as issues arise. But senior leaders are increasingly looking for more effective ways to reduce the negative impact mental health difficulties can have on the whole school community.

Planning for a culture of positive mental health

Here are some basic steps schools can take to understand what the issues and priorities are in your school and how you can plan for a culture of positive mental health

  • Capture pupil and staff views
  • Update school policies and procedures
  • Create a mental health lead*
  • Put measures in place to monitor impact

At the Carnegie Centre of Excellence for Mental Health in Schools, we are currently working with over 3,000 schools nationally and internationally. Utilising a developmental framework allows schools to evaluate current mental health practices, identify gaps, develop and strengthen these and work towards building an emotionally healthier environment. Through this process, schools commit to making mental health a strategic priority and developing a positive culture that promotes mental well-being for everyone.

Schools who purchase SAS services can access both the School Mental Health Award and the Mental Health and Wellbeing Lead Governor training free of charge as part of their Wellbeing package.

*DfE funding is available for every school in England to access Senior Mental Health Lead Training. Please visit the website: https://www.leedsbeckett.ac.uk/smhltraining. Courses are online.