Mental Health and Wellbeing
“Mental health is a state of wellbeing 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 his or her community.” (World Health Organisation)
We all have mental health, and it affects how we feel, think and act. It refers to our emotional, psychological and social wellbeing. Our mental health can change daily and over time and can be affected by a range of factors.
“Promoting children and young people’s wellbeing is a key part of keeping them safe, helping them develop and ensuring they have positive outcomes into adulthood.” (Public Health England, 2021).
At Windlesham Village Infant School we recognise that it is important for all our staff and children to look after their mental health, just as they would look after their physical health. Our state of wellbeing affects how we cope with stress, relate to others and make choices. It also plays a part in our relationships with our family, community, colleagues and friends.
Good Mental Health Among Children
When children have good levels of wellbeing it helps them to:
- learn and explore the world
- feel, express and manage positive and negative emotions
- form and maintain good relationships with others
- cope with, and manage, change, setbacks and uncertainty
- develop and thrive.
When children are supported to look after their mental health and develop their coping skills, it can help them to boost their resilience, self-esteem and confidence. It can also help them learn to manage their emotions, feel calm, and engage positively with their education - which can, in turn, improve their academic attainment.
We help our children develop social and emotional skills, providing them with the coping skills and tools they need to understand and manage their thoughts, feelings, behaviour, goals and relationships.
We do this through teaching health and wellbeing education in our PSHE lessons and weaving these topics and skills throughout the broader curriculum and school life, such as using Trick Box and Kelso’s Choices.
We all have a responsibility to promote children’s wellbeing, recognise any concerns about a child’s welfare and know what action to take to keep children safe.
We do this by talking with children about their mental health; teaching strategies to help improve mental health and by working alongside parents and carers. We provide opportunities in class for children to talk as well as having access to our Emotional Learning Support Assistant (ELSA) working 1:1 or in groups through a series of sessions to develop well-being.
Mental health and wellbeing are really important to us. If parents ever have concerns over a child or someone close to them, then we urge you to inform the class teacher so we can do our best for them in school. It is crucial we continue to build strong relationships with you as parents and us as a school.
Social and Emotional Skills
Social and emotional skills are the skills that help children and young people develop their resilience and manage their thoughts, feelings and behaviour. They are important life skills that support pupils’ ability to cope with and negotiate their way through difficult situations, as well as build positive relationships with their peers and adults.
These skills can improve academic attainment and enhance pupils’ motivation, as well as promote wellbeing and help prevent mental health difficulties from developing.
At our school we help pupils build the strong emotional foundations that all of us need in order to thrive and be mentally healthy.
Social and emotional skills help children and young people to:
- identify and manage their feelings and their behaviour, and reach out for help where necessary
- build and manage healthy relationships
- have self-control
- resolve conflict
- be self-aware
- handle and overcome difficulties
- make good decisions
- build resilience, self-esteem, confidence and self-compassion
- think positively about themselves and how they perceive the world around them
- recognise and prevent poor mental health
- grow into well-rounded and healthy adults.
We recognise that the biggest asset we have is our staff, and the biggest asset they have is their health and wellbeing. We therefore want to ensure we look after our staff.
The school promotes the wellbeing of staff by:
- Increasing everyone’s awareness of the causes and effects of stress
- Developing a culture that is open and supportive of people experiencing stress or other forms of mental ill health
- Engaging with staff to create constructive and effective partnerships both within teams and across the school
- Encouraging staff to take responsibility for their own health and wellbeing
- Establishing working arrangements whereby employees feel they are able to maintain an appropriate work-life balance
- Supporting staff managing challenging pupils, staff, parents and carers.
Whilst we want all our staff to support wellbeing / mental health within our school, we believe it is important for staff to have a named person to maintain the importance of wellbeing / mental health issues and to champion their interest.
This role champions wellbeing / mental health for the school community; but is not directly responsible for it. The role includes the promotion of wellbeing materials, acting as a signpost for other services or professionals, relating ideas and information to senior staff that could further improve wellbeing in school, and helping to reduce barriers to mental health in school by promoting positive language in relation to mental health.
TAMAT is committed to supporting the wellbeing of all staff, bringing best practice together and signposting support from its schools to benefit all staff, this includes facilitating a wellbeing support network, highlighting wellbeing importance at governor and Trust Board level, signposting and providing resources.
Mental Health First Aider and First Aid
Mental Health First Aid
Our school has at least one trained Mental Health First Aider. This enables early identification and support if a child, family member or staff are beginning to display signs of anxiety or stress. Embedding Mental First Aid practice in school encourages people to talk more freely about mental health, promoting early intervention which enables recovery, reduces stigma and creates a positive culture.
The children learn how their brains work and how to recognise signs and symptoms of worry. They all have been taught techniques to look after their own mental health such as using the zones of regulation and Trick Box.
Making time to talk to speak with your child about how they are feeling is important, teaching them to name their feelings and strategies to understand their mental health.
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To support the wellbeing of our staff, the school’s priorities are:
- Language – to be mindful of the language we use to talk about mental health.
- Communication – to encourage individuals to communicate their needs and concerns.
- Relationships – to promote good relationships between staff, pupils and parents.
- Kindness – to promote the importance of treating people as we would want to be treated ourselves.
- Tolerance – for different ways people think and act, providing our goal of ensuring good outcomes for pupils is not affected.
- Respect – for how a staff member might want to manage their own mental health or health, providing it does not impact on the safeguarding of pupils.
- Harmony – to promote ways of being with each other, including times when opinions differ.
- Equality – to ensure all staff having an equal right to wellbeing in the workplace.
- Trust – to develop a supportive process in which staff can trust, for the continued wellbeing of staff.
- Empowerment – to ensure staff members feel a part of the decisions which affect them.
- Balance – to recognise the demands of workload on staff and to find ways to ensure a good balance over a school year between work that is necessary for good outcomes for pupils and time to enjoy when not at work.
Parents and the Community
We believe engaging widely with all members of the school community is essential to support the wellbeing of all, and we value the insight this brings.
Developing positive relationships can impact on the wellbeing, attendance, behaviour, sense of school belonging, intellectual development and attainment of children across a range of social and economic backgrounds.
We do this through a variety of ways:
- Directly involving parents and carers in their child’s academic learning by familiarising them with the curriculum, providing workshops and opportunities to learn with us.
- Noticing when parents/carers are in distress and considering how it may be impacting on their child’s learning.
- Seeing every parent/carer contact as an opportunity to support, so they can work with you to help their child flourish and learn.
- Find ways for parents and carers to get to know staff members and develop a trusted point of contact if they need additional support or someone to talk to, e.g., being available in the playground during drop off/pick up.
- Providing non-academic-related social or ‘taster’ events for parents/carers to build up confidence and trust and help them to become more familiar with the school.
- Providing uniform swap shops.
- Parent Teacher Association (PTA).
- Being welcoming to parents and carers who come into the school, communicating with them in a non-judgemental and positive way.
- Having an open-door policy for easy access to school leaders.
- Sign-posting parents and the wider community to online well-being support.