Guidance and evidence shows that the key factor in improving the emotional wellbeing and mental health within schools and colleges comes from taking a Whole School Approach. Strong leadership and management within the school or college is vital.
Public Health England breaks down the whole-school approach into eight components. Leadership and Management are at the centre of their model.
It recognises that improving emotional wellbeing and mental health is likely to lead to an improvement in overall academic attainment. Work on improving the emotional wellbeing and mental health should be incorporated into the School Improvement Plan rather than developing it separately.
Evidence from Professor Weare in the National Children’s Bureau on what works in promoting social and emotional well-being and problems in schools.
The Mentally Healthy Schools website provides a range of practical advice and guidance on embedding a whole school approach and the various components.
Schools may wish to develop a stand alone policy on emotional wellbeing, or incorporate this into their safeguarding procedures. The Mentally Healthy Schools website offers examples of existing policies and procedures.
Every school, college and alternative provision will be offered training through a series of workshops as part of the Link Programme, with the most appropriate member of staff from each put forward to take part alongside mental health specialists. This is designed to improve partnerships with professional NHS mental health services, raise awareness of mental health concerns and improve referrals to specialist help when needed.
The four-year scheme will be led by the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families, backed by the multi-million-pound government investment. It builds on 1,500 schools and colleges that have already taken up this training during the pilot stage of the programme, launched in 2015.
Jaime Smith, Director of Mental Health and Wellbeing in Schools introduces the Link Programme to staff working in a school or college setting.