Mental health is a subject that is gaining more attention and prominence in the nations psyche. People from all sections of our society have opened up about their mental health issues, this includes members of the Royal family, that stalwart of the British stiff upper lip!
It is important to provide an open and non-judgmental space with no distractions, give them your full attention. Provide them with true and genuine concern. Share and listen.
Let them lead the discussion at their own pace. Don’t put pressure on them to tell you anything they aren’t ready to talk about, however depending on the level of your relationship you may feel confident to challenge thoughts or behaviours. Talking can take a lot of trust and courage.
You probably aren’t a medical expert or a trained counselor. Try not to make assumptions about what is wrong or jump in too quickly with your own diagnosis or solutions. But you can signpost or take them to an appointment that they have missed or make an appointment to the GP on their behalf, with consent.
Change your narrative and try to keep your language neutral. Give the person time to answer and try not to grill them with too many questions.
Exercise, having a healthy diet and taking a break can help protect mental health and sustain wellbeing. Talk about ways of de-stressing and ask if they find anything helpful. Perhaps you want to buddy up at the gym or even go for a gentle walk through some green spaces. Sit on a bench and enjoy a mindful moment.
There are many types of mental health disorder. All of which can have an impact on our lives and the those around us.
Charities like MIND help to campaign to improve services, raise awareness and Promote understanding.
Repeat what they have said back to them to ensure you have understood it. You don’t have to agree with what they are saying, but by showing you understand how they feel, you are letting them know you respect their feelings.
Ask for help or signpost if the problem is serious. If you believe they are in immediate danger or they have injuries that need medical attention, you need to take action to make sure they are safe.
If you are in need of help but do not know where to look, we have provided the contact details of a number of organisations who may be able to help you.Find Help
If they have withdrawn from social media or social events, says they will come out and then don’t, make a visit, don’t send a text follow through your visit. Make your presence known don’t dismiss that text as ‘rude’ or you ‘can’t be bothered’ Understand what has happened in their lives. Be that valued friend.
Get support in the meantime, some referrals may take up to two years, so support your friend, peer or relative with practical support.
Go for walks, make a cuppa, make regular visits, be funny, be supportive, be accountable, make open and honest conversations, try deep breathing, do some exercise, clean the house, cook together, help with appointments, childcare, support a healthy lifestyle, do the shopping and seek help.
This isn’t an exhaustive list, of course. These are just a few practical ways in which you can make your friends/peer/family feel loved, attended to, maybe temporarily relieved of stress and depression
Ofsted’s decision to create separate judgments for ‘behavior and attitudes’ and ‘personal development’ is finally within reach. However, this is long overdue. I believe that this will help to begin to shift focus away from academic outcomes as there is too much emphasis on academic attainment and not enough focus on promoting the wellbeing of students, (which as teachers, is our main focus and drive) but does not to reflect the depth and breadth of learning that should be offered by your training provider in order to develop you as a person. Moreover, the new Ofsted inspection requiring seprate judgements in these categories will allow more room to assess education providers and provide a better reflection on just how good their curriculum really is (hence a more student centered) approach to well-being. An important factor that has been missing from previous iterations of Ofsted’s inspection framework.
Recently, there has be a rising number of students being excluded and we cannot ignore the issue. We have all become wiser to the methods used in schools seeking to expel “awkward’ pupils (even in our primary schools!) as a last resort we see a number of exclusions or an informal transfer called “off rolling” for our most vulnerable young people are being left “out of sight and out of mind” by a system that is quick to condemn them to a life without a proper education. It is believed that some schools are increasingly “playing” the system – getting rid of students who might do badly in their GCSE’s and compromise the school’s performance in league tables. (Controversial, I know).
In June 2018 an Ofsted investigation into the practice of “off-rolling” – where pupils disappear from the school register just before GCSEs – found that more than 19,000 pupils who were in year 10 in 2016 had vanished from the school roll by the start of year 11, the year when pupils sit their GCSEs. While many of those pupils moved to new schools and reappeared on roll elsewhere, around half disappeared without trace, raising concerns that a number will have dropped out of education altogether.
Young people are then handed a life sentence of being lost in the system and very little support to reengage with education, employment or training. So now, we have encouraging news from Ofsted we need to do more as educational providers. An interesting study by the Youth Index highlights the complexities and challenges that young people face. According to the report some 48 per cent of pupils said that they experienced problems during their school years that prevented them from concentrating on their academic work. Of these, 46 per cent pupils did not talk to anyone about their problems, mainly because they did not want other people to know that they were struggling.
Pupils abandoned by schools need to be accountable for their actions and source the main problems for disengagement, to how exclusions are used and why certain groups are disproportionally affected. Schools have a duty of care and a rigorous approach to support the well-being of young people. How far do schools go in auditing well-being for both staff and pupils in schools. We need an open forum on mental health and well-being and a neutral space to highlight concerns within schools. Intervention is key and pre-empting issues that may arise with young people is key. A school must be a safe haven for young people.
I deliver programmes to empower groups within communities on promoting a positive approach to health and well-being. In addition, I am able to develop support on self-care and delivering meaningful programmes, in raising awareness of the value of managing health and well-being as individuals or groups. I am able to offer design services to business/educational settings that are specific to the needs of a target audience.
My background also includes having worked in Well Being and Student Engagement Programmes supporting both pastoral and academia, youth mentoring, primary and secondary education, referrals units and youth centres across the boroughs of Slough, Richmond, Ealing and Hounslow lifelong services. Over the past twenty-three years I have accumulated a wealth of knowledge skills and experience. I have a dynamic and relational approach to delivering my work and enjoy sharing my knowledge of the Women’s Projects, Work place well-being, Youth centred approaches, Mentoring, Work skills and PSHE.
What is the value of well-being in schools?
Well-being, just seems to be a buzz word at the moment, but should we take heed? Yes.
The national focus on children and young people’s well-being in recent years has been long overdue and now we have work to do, in fact, we are making matters worse from the lack of resources for children and young people, in and out of the classroom. Children and young people need education to include, how to understand and look after their well-being – paramount – before we can engage in any learning. (An element of the educational system I feel strongly about). But we need to shift the focus to preventing mental and health problems and reevaluating the need to build on resilience, we can do so much to improve the lives of so many children and young people.
One in ten young people between the age of five and 16 suffers from a diagnosed mental health problem – on average, that’s three pupils in every class. Referrals to specialist mental health services nearly doubled between 2010-11 and 2014-15. As a result, NHS Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) are overwhelmed, we see the issues with long waiting lists, remain undiagnosed, limited outreach and limited access to treatment and care that they need.
So, consider a class of thirty students, many of which have not yet accessed resources. Questions as educators, how do we diagnose such scenarios, where is the training and support in the class? Government has lost its focus and its paramount that educational providers take responsibility and prioritise well-being.
SFE-Academy and Youthology are building a movement for change, to recognise that well-being has to be a priority for schools and the education system needs re-balancing. We believe that schools are much more than centres of learning. Schools can provide the most reliable conduit to address a worrying trend, however, for schools to succeed in helping their students, our priorities as a nation must be realigned, and the education system must re-balance academic learning and well-being. It’s a win-win situation for schools, parents and students. More to the point, it is, what young people deserve.
Young people deserve an excellent education that prepares them academically and emotionally for the challenges they will face inside the classroom and for lifelong learning.
Well-being must be top of the agenda, when funding pastoral care is first to be removed from school agendas or efforts remain isolated and undervalued. It should be the opposite. Such work should be at the crux of our educational system and recognised at the highest level. We believe that each child deserves a dedicated place to learn to care for their own mental health, and it is our duty as a society to provide this. With schools at the helm, we can create a generation of resilient, healthy and confident individuals.
Well-being is a clear indicator of academic achievement, success and satisfaction in later life. Evidence shows that mental health and well-being programmes in schools, can lead to significant improvements in children’s mental health, and social and emotional skills. Well-being provision in schools can also lead to reductions in classroom misbehaviour and risk of exclusion. This is high on the school agenda. The education system is unbalanced. There is too much emphasis on academic attainment and not enough focus on promoting the well-being of students.
With the new Ofsted Framework, we have to do more in schools, the new framework summarises the need to providers play a crucial role in ensuring that learners of all ages are equipped with the knowledge and skills that improve their life chances. Redefining and evaluating learners’ wider development is just as important to ensure that our young people can prosper, lead successful lives and make meaningful contributions to society. If young people are to develop the skills they need to succeed later in life, appropriate mental health support is essential. The new inspection framework presents an ideal opportunity to embed mental health and well-being at the heart of schools’, and Ofsted’s, work, while recognising the need to provide better support to schools and teachers to deliver appropriate guidance and to direct learners to the right support.
Finally, we have some recognition from Ofsted for more than a decade, there is an urgency to restore the curriculum and provide a holistic approach to learning.
SFE-Academy and Youthology can support and update existing legislation to enshrine well-being as a fundamental priority of schools.
What is the value of mental health and well-being in schools? We take a look at the value of well-being training in our education system. Are we doing enough to tackle the issue?