In an average classroom, three children will be suffering from a diagnosable mental health condition. By developing and implementing practical, relevant and effective mental health policies and procedures we can promote a safe and stable environment for the many students affected both directly, and indirectly by mental ill health.
The school has an important role to play, acting as a source of support and information for both students and parents. However, many school staff feel out of their depth when faced with issues related to mental health. This guidance is designed to help schools develop policies and procedures which will empower staff to spot and support students in need of help and to follow appropriate referral pathways and procedures. A well-developed and implemented policy can prevent students from falling through the gaps.
This guidance was written by Dr Pooky Knightsmith as part of her work with the Charlie Waller Memorial Trust. The Trust fully funded the research and writing of the guidance. The guidance was developed in consultation with a range of school staff and other professionals and experts. We are grateful to all of them. Special thanks go to Penny Tyndale-Hardy, Farlingaye High School; Rahel Monohan, Latymer Upper School and Sarah Davies, Notting Hill and Ealing High School.
Positive Mental Health Policy
Lord Blyton Primary School
Last Updated – June 2021
Mental health is a state of well-being 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 her or his community. (World Health Organization)
At our school, we aim to promote positive mental health for every member of our staff and student. We pursue this aim using both universal, whole school approaches and specialised, targeted approaches aimed at vulnerable students.
In addition to promoting positive mental health, we aim to recognise and respond to mental ill health. In an average classroom, three children will be suffering from a diagnosable mental health issue. By developing and implementing practical, relevant and effective mental health policies and procedures we can promote a safe and stable environment for students affected both directly, and indirectly by mental ill health.
This document describes the school’s approach to promoting positive mental health and wellbeing. This policy is intended as guidance for all staff including non-teaching staff and governors.
This policy should be read in conjunction with our medical policy in cases where a student’s mental health overlaps with or is linked to a medical issue and the SEND policy where a student has an identified special educational need.
- Promote positive mental health in all staff and students
- Increase understanding and awareness of common mental health issues
- Alert staff to early warning signs of mental ill health
- Provide support to staff working with young people with mental health issues
- Provide support to students suffering mental ill health and their peers and parents/carers
Lead Members of Staff
Whilst all staff have a responsibility to promote the mental health of students. Staff with a specific, relevant remit include:
- Jo Atherton & Alison Quinn – Designated safeguarding leads
- Jill Wales & Rebecca Hall- Designated Deputy safeguarding leads
- Jill Wales- Mental Health Champion
- Alison Quinn- Mental Health Champion
- Fiona Nellist- Mental Health Champion
- Susan Burgess- Mental Health Champion
- Alison Quinn- Child & Family Pastoral Manager
- Michael Gillmore – PSHE teacher
Any member of staff who is concerned about the mental health or wellbeing of a student should speak to the mental health lead in the first instance. If there is a fear that the student is in danger of immediate harm then the normal child protection procedures should be followed with an immediate referral to the designated safeguarding lead. If the student presents a medical emergency then the normal procedures for medical emergencies should be followed, including alerting the first aid staff and contacting the emergency services if necessary.
Where a referral to CAMHS is appropriate, this will be led and managed by Alison Quinn.
It is helpful to draw up an individual care plan for pupils causing concern or who receive a diagnosis pertaining to their mental health. This should be drawn up involving the pupil, the parents and relevant health professionals. This can include:
- Details of a pupil’s condition
- Special requirements and precautions
- Medication and any side effects
- What to do, and who to contact in an emergency
- The role the school can play
The skills, knowledge and understanding needed by our students to keep themselves and others physically and mentally healthy and safe are included as part of our PSHE curriculum.
The specific content of lessons will be determined by the specific needs of the cohort we’re teaching but there will always be an emphasis on enabling students to develop the skills, knowledge, understanding, language and confidence to seek help, as needed, for themselves or others.
We will ensure that staff, students and parents are aware of sources of support within school and in the local community. What support is available within our school and local community, who it is aimed at and how to access it is outlined in our Mental Health offer.
We will display relevant sources of support in communal areas such as corridors and near Mrs Quinn’s area.
Email, face book and the school website will also be used to advertise support services.
School staff may become aware of warning signs which indicate a student is experiencing mental health or emotional wellbeing issues. These warning signs should always be taken seriously and staff observing any of these warning signs should communicate their concerns with a mental health champion.
Possible warning signs include:
- Physical signs of harm that are repeated or appear non-accidental
- Changes in eating / sleeping habits
- Increased isolation from friends or family, becoming socially withdrawn
- Changes in activity and mood
- Lowering of academic achievement
- Talking or joking about self-harm or suicide
- Abusing drugs or alcohol
- Expressing feelings of failure, uselessness or loss of hope
- Changes in clothing – e.g. long sleeves in warm weather
- Secretive behaviour
- Skipping PE or getting changed secretively
- Lateness to or absence from school
- Repeated physical pain or nausea with no evident cause
- An increase in lateness or absenteeism
A student may choose to disclose concerns about themselves or a friend to any member of staff so all staff need to know how to respond appropriately to a disclosure.
If a student chooses to disclose concerns about their own mental health or that of a friend to a member of staff, the member of staff’s response should always be calm, supportive and non-judgemental.
Staff should listen, rather than advise and our first thoughts should be of the student’s emotional and physical safety rather than of exploring ‘Why?’ For more information about how to handle mental health disclosures sensitively see appendix E.
All disclosures should be recorded in writing and held on the student’s confidential file of CPOMS. This written record should include:
- The name of the member of staff to whom the disclosure was made
- Main points from the conversation
- Agreed next steps
This information should be shared with the Child & Family Pastoral Manager or a Mental Health Champion who will provide & store the record appropriately and offer support and advice about next steps.
We should be honest with regards to the issue of confidentiality. If we think it is necessary for us to pass our concerns about a student on then we should discuss with the student:
- Who we are going to talk to
- What we are going to tell them
- Why we need to tell them
We should never share information about a student without first telling them. Ideally we would receive their consent, though there are certain situations when information must always be shared with another member of staff and / or a parent.
Children will be informed if staff have safeguarding concerns about what they have heard/ seen and that we have a duty to share with parents and/or other professionals.
It is always advisable to share disclosures with a colleague, usually the Safeguarding Lead, Child & Family Pastoral Manager or a Mental Health Champion as this helps to safeguard our own emotional wellbeing as we are no longer solely responsible for the student, it ensures continuity of care in our absence and it provides an extra source of ideas and support. We should explain this to the student and discuss with them who it would be most appropriate and helpful to share this information with.
Parents must always be informed if there is a risk of harm and students may choose to tell their parents themselves. If this is the case, the student should be given 24 hours to share this information before the school contacts parents unless there is an immediate risk. We should always give students the option of us informing parents for them or with them.
If a child gives us reason to believe that there may be underlying child protection issues, parents should not be informed, but the child protection safeguarding lead must be informed immediately.
Where it is deemed appropriate to inform parents, we need to be sensitive in our approach. Before disclosing to parents we should consider the following questions (on a case by case basis):
- Can the meeting happen face to face? This is preferable.
- Where should the meeting happen? At school, at their home or somewhere neutral?
- Who should be present? Consider parents, the student, other members of staff.
- What are the aims of the meeting?
It can be shocking and upsetting for parents to learn of their child’s issues and many may respond with anger, fear or upset during the first conversation. We should be accepting of this (within reason) and give the parent time to reflect.
We should always highlight further sources of information and give them leaflets to take away where possible as they will often find it hard to take much in whilst coming to terms with the news that you’re sharing. Sharing sources of further support aimed specifically at parents can also be helpful too e.g. parent helplines and forums.
We should always provide clear means of contacting us with further questions and consider booking in a follow up meeting or phone call right away as parents often have many questions as they process the information. Finish each meeting with agreed next step and always keep a brief record of the meeting on the child’s confidential record.
Parents are often very welcoming of support and information from the school about supporting their children’s emotional and mental health. In order to support parents we will:
- Highlight sources of information and support about common mental health issues on our school website
- Ensure that all parents are aware of who to talk to, and how to get about this, if they have concerns about their own child or a friend of their child
- Make our mental health policy easily accessible to parents
- Share ideas about how parents can support positive mental health in their children through our regular information evenings
- Keep parents informed about the mental health topics their children are learning about in PSHE and share ideas for extending and exploring this learning at home
When a student is suffering from mental health issues, it can be a difficult time for their friends. Friends often want to support but do not know how. In the case of self-harm or eating disorders, it is possible that friends may learn unhealthy coping mechanisms from each other. In order to keep peers safe, we will consider on a case by case basis which friends may need additional support. Support will be provided either in one to one or group settings and will be guided by conversations by the student who is suffering and their parents with whom we will discuss:
- What it is helpful for friends to know and what they should not be told
- How friends can best support
- Things friends should avoid doing / saying which may inadvertently cause upset
- Warning signs that their friend help (e.g. signs of relapse)
Additionally, we will want to highlight with peers:
- Where and how to access support for themselves
- Safe sources of further information about their friend’s condition
- Healthy ways of coping with the difficult emotions they may be feeling
As a minimum, all staff will receive regular training about recognising and responding to mental health issues as part of their regular child protection training in order to enable them to keep students safe.
School are members of Pooky Knightsmith training and the schools CPD training programme. We are also offered Mental Health training through the NHS and our links with lifecycle/ Healthy Minds Team.
Training opportunities for staff who require more in depth knowledge will be considered as part of our performance management process and additional CPD will be supported throughout the year where it becomes appropriate due developing situations with one or more students.
Where the need to do so becomes evident, we will host twilight training sessions for all staff to promote learning or understanding about specific issues related to mental health.
Suggestions for individual, group or whole school CPD should be discussed with the head teacher who can also highlight sources of relevant training and support for individuals as needed.
This policy will be reviewed every 3 years as a minimum. It is next due for review in June2024.
Additionally, this policy will be reviewed and updated as appropriate on an ad hoc basis. If you have a question or suggestion about improving this policy, this should be addressed to Jo Atherton or Alison Quinn
This policy will always be immediately updated to reflect personnel changes.
Teacher Guidance: Preparing to teach about mental health and emotional wellbeing (2015). PSHE Association. Funded by the Department for Education (2015)
Keeping children safe in education – statutory guidance for schools and colleges. Department for Education (2014)
Supporting pupils at school with medical conditions – statutory guidance for governing bodies of maintained schools and proprietors of academies in England. Department for Education (2014)
Healthy child programme from 5 to 19 years old is a recommended framework of universal and progressive services for children and young people to promote optimal health and wellbeing. Department of Health (2009)
Future in mind – promoting, protecting and improving our children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing – a report produced by the Children and Young People’s Mental Health and Wellbeing Taskforce to examine how to improve mental health services for children and young people. Department of Health (2015)
KOOTH link- Online counselling service for children and young people aged 11 years to 24 years
Heathy Mind Team link
Young Minds link