Mental Health & Wellbeing
At Benhurst, we are committed to supporting and improving the wellbeing of our pupils and staff. We understand that our children face daily life challenges and can experience issues in dealing with their emotions. We recognise the importance of positive mental health on not only the happiness and quality of life of our children, but also on their academic growth and progress. Mental health is everybody’s business and we all have an important role to play.
In the wider school environment, we promote a mentally healthy school through a positive and caring ethos built around our Core Values.
At our school, we:
– Help all children to understand their emotions and feelings
– promote a safe environment for children to share their concerns and worries
– actively support children in building social relationships
– listen to others and support our peers in discussing setbacks and challenges
– teach children to develop resilience and their own personal coping strategies
– provide children with roles and responsibilities to ensure that they feel valued
– praise children for their individual strengths, building confidence and self-esteem
For children who need additional support, tailored interventions are implemented to meet their individual needs and specific counselling is offered. We work closely with outside agencies and provide staff training on identifying key issues and the importance of early intervention. The skills, knowledge and understanding needed by our pupils to keep themselves mentally healthy and safe are included as part of our PSHE curriculum.
Identifying Needs and Warning Signs
Each term, staff complete wellbeing assessments on their pupils to be submitted to the School’s Mental Health Lead. They identify a range of possible factors that could affect the mental health and wellbeing of a pupil including:
– Physical and health indicators
– Family circumstances e.g. parental separation or recent bereavement
– Changes in attendance and punctuality
– Negative behaviour patterns
– Changes in their approach to learning
– Relationship difficulties
The children identified are monitored by teachers to ensure that they can talk about any issues they have and are supported emotionally.
Teachers and school staff may become aware of warning signs which indicate a child is experiencing mental health or emotional wellbeing issues. These warning signs are taken seriously and staff that observe any of these warning signs communicate their concerns with the designated child protection and safeguarding lead as appropriate.
Possible warning signs include:
– Changes in eating and sleeping habits
– Changes in activity and mood
– Becoming socially withdrawn
– Lack of interest in hobbies or previously favoured activities
– Expressing feelings of failure, uselessness or loss of hope
– Negative view of self and significant changes in self-esteem
– Repeated physical pain or nausea with no evident cause
Working with Parents
We recognise the importance of working closely with parents to safeguard children identified as having any of the warning signs above. To support a unified approach between our school and parents in supporting each child, we will:
– highlight key sources of information and support about mental health and emotional wellbeing
– ensure that all parents are aware of who to talk to, and how, if they have concerns about their child
– share ideas about how parents can effectively promote positive mental health in their children
– 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
Tips for Talking to Children about Mental Health
1. Make conversations about mental health a normal part of life: Anywhere is a good place to talk.
2. Give your full attention: We all know it’s horrible to be half listened to. Keep eye contact, focus on the child and ignore distractions.
3. Check your body language: Try to keep it open and relaxed and make sure you come down to the child’s level.
4. Take it seriously: Don’t downplay what the child is saying or tell them they’re “just being silly”. Resist the urge to reassure them that everything is fine.
5. Ask open questions: Such as “How did your day go today?” This will help to extend the conversation.
6. Calmly stay with the feelings that arise: It can be our automatic reaction to steer away from difficult emotions.
7. Offer empathy rather than solutions: Show that you accept what they are telling you but don’t try to solve the problem.
8. Remember we are all different: Respect and value the child’s feelings, even though they may be different to yours.
9. Look for clues about feelings: Listen to the child’s words, tone of voice and body language.
10. Some ways to start a conversation about feelings might be: “How are you feeling at the moment?” “You don’t seem your usual self. Do you want to talk about it?” “Do you fancy a chat?” “I’m happy to listen if you need a chat.”
Anna Freud – National Centre for Children and Families (Includes guidance on talking to children about mental health, warning signs to look for and how to support them)
Place 2 Be (Advice and tips for parents on supporting your child’s mental health at home and counselling options available)
Mentally Healthy Schools (Advice and tips on talking to children about emotional health and wellbeing)
Key School Contacts
If you are concerned about your child’s well being, please contact the school to share your concerns. In the first instance, this should be their class teacher via email or by telephoning the school (01708 450807).
Our Mental Health and Well-Being Champion is Mrs Hillyer.