Senior Mental Health Lead: Mrs R Brannan
Designated Lead for mental health and wellbeing: Mrs N Oxnard
Designated member of staff for mental health first aid: Miss L Duckworth
What is mental health and wellbeing?
The world health organisation defines mental health as “a state of well-being in which the individual realises his or her own abilities, 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”
Mental health can affect daily life, relationships, physical health and a person’s ability to enjoy life – to attain a balance between life activities and efforts to achieve psychological resilience. At Neville’s Cross we believe the wellbeing of our staff and children should be at the centre of everything we do. We develop trusting and mutually respectful relationships, encourage talk and foster a culture of care and support. Through the development of positive relationships, we also hope to support the needs of parents and those in our community.
At Neville’s Cross, we promote a culture which supports Wellbeing and Mental Health through:
- Promoting our school values and encouraging a sense of belonging
- Promoting pupil voice and opportunities to participate in decision-making
- Celebrating academic and non-academic achievements in order to promote self-esteem
- Providing opportunities to develop a sense of worth through taking responsibility for themselves and others
- Providing opportunities to reflect
- Access to appropriate support that meets their needs
- Helping children to understand their emotions and feelings better and to feel comfortable sharing any concerns or worries
- Helping children to develop emotional resilience and to manage setbacks
To demonstrate our dedication in this area, we have pledged our commitment to both the Health and Wellbeing Framework and the Durham Resilience Programme.
The Health and Wellbeing Framework
‘The Health and Wellbeing Framework has been developed to support schools and education settings in County Durham to improve the overall health and wellbeing of their children, young people and staff. It will provide structure and guidance for schools and education settings to enable the promotion and development of good health and wellbeing.
The framework is underpinned by a resilience-based approach and aims to support education settings to look holistically at the mental, physical and emotional health and wellbeing of the whole setting population. It is aligned to the THRIVE model for children and young people’s mental health services (Anna Freud 2019).’
What do we want the Health and Wellbeing Framework to achieve?
- All children, young people and staff to be included and experience a positive and supportive environment that enhances learning and development opportunities.
- All schools and education settings to be able to identify strengths and needs and respond appropriately to these by identifying priorities for action.
- For the leadership and governance of the setting to value health and wellbeing as a key element of their provision.
- For everyone to be aware that good health and wellbeing is closely associated with positive education outcomes.
- For all settings to be able to access a range of support and interventions linked to their identified needs.
The Durham Resilience Programme
‘The Durham Resilience Programme (DRP) aims to raise awareness of the importance of developing and supporting resilience across school communities, and support participating schools in developing, implementing and reviewing a bespoke action plan to improve resilience-promoting practice within their setting.’
To help our children maintain positive wellbeing and good mental health at Neville’s Cross, we offer different levels of support:
Universal Support – To meet the needs of all our pupils through our overall ethos and our wider curriculum. For instance, developing resilience for all.
Additional support – For those who may have short term needs and those who may have been made vulnerable by life experiences such as bereavement. More differentiated support and resources or specific targeted interventions may be provided.
Targeted support – For pupils who need more specialist support for example via CAMHS.
Our Universal Support Offer
We have a Wellbeing Team made up of:
- Our Senior Mental Health Lead (Mrs Brannan)
- Our Mental Health and Well Being Lead (Mrs Oxnard)
- Our designated teacher responsible for Mental Health First Aid in school (Miss Duckworth)
Together we are responsible for promoting wellbeing for our staff and children; sharing resources and ideas.
What do we currently do for mental health and wellbeing for our children and staff?
- In each class we have worry boxes for children to share their worries with a safe adult.
- We have nominated school council members in each class to represent their peers and gain feedback in class assemblies.
- We have class email addresses for all teaching staff so parents can email concerns or worries.
- We have home/school communication via planners which allow for more regular updates.
- We have move up/transition days, extra transition sessions for some children, we create photograph books where we feel this will help and we provide meet the teacher sessions when a child is finding a class move difficult. When allocating classes, we always consider friendships, social groups and relationships with staff.
- We have a lunchtime club for children to be able to have a quieter lunchtime, support children who find busy lunchtimes stressful and allows children time to chat/share their worries with an adult.
- We have Key Stage 2 children as play-leaders/Buddies to support younger children in positive play.
- We have mental health and wellbeing trained staff in order to support pupils with their needs.
- We have positive behaviour systems in place to promote positive social behaviour.
- We have mental health and wellbeing assemblies to promote resilience and self-management.
- We have a PSHE curriculum (Jigsaw) that helps children to develop important life skills, such as learning to learn and the growth mindset.
- We use the ‘Zones of Regulation’ approach
- Our school ethos promotes the development of skills and character traits such as perseverance, compassion and teamwork.
- We have a Mental Health and Wellbeing Policy for our school which is regularly updated.
- We have regular Staff Well-being meetings and share strategies.
- We include World Mental Health Day and Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week in the school calendar and plan activities for the whole school.
We promote Positive Experiences
Neville’s Cross offers children many opportunities to do physical activities as well as opportunities to relax which both are ways to promote wellbeing and positive mental health.
- Games to play outside during play times and lunch times – often led by our Play leaders and Buddies
- Library open each lunch time to borrow books to read
- Active Learning
- Themed Days
- Residential visits
- Educational day visits
- Before and after school clubs (Breakfast and Tea Time Clubs)
- Extra-curricular clubs such as yoga, doodle club and a vast array of sports
We like to celebrate our many successes together by:
- Posting achievements on Facebook (public) and Seesaw (private) to celebrate what is taking place
- Displaying children’s work
- Collecting ‘Let’s Celebrate’ awards and visiting Mrs Brannan for a prize
- Awards Assembly each week
- Class Assemblies
- School newsletters
- House points and a termly House Point treat
The school follows the DfE guidelines for the teaching of Mental Health and Wellbeing in the following ways:
- Personal, Social, Health Education (PSHE) curriculum taught using ‘Jigsaw’
- Promoting active and outdoor learning
- Through the use of ‘brain breaks’ and ‘movement breaks’
- Assemblies and theme days
Our offer of Additional Support
Should we feel a child would benefit from additional support within school, our staff may coordinate interventions to support mental health and wellbeing such as:
- Time to talk
- Getting Along
- Self-esteem individual and group activities
- There’s a Volcano in my Tummy anger therapy
- Lego therapy
- Starving the Anxiety Gremlin therapy
- Forest Bathing Group
- Mentoring and ‘check ins’
- Personal worry/fidget boxes
We would always speak to you about any additional support we offer. Where we may seek the help of external colleagues to provide additional support, we always seek parental permissions.
We are supported in school by the Emotional Wellbeing for Effective Learning (EWEL) team. The EWEL team provides support for staff via coaching and CPD as well as through the delivery of short-term interventions in small groups or on a one to one basis. Anita, who is our specialist teacher, provides support for children in school and is able to focus on a variety of areas of need e.g.
- General worries and anxieties
- Low self-esteem
- Controlling emotions
- Understanding friendships and the dynamics involved
We are also able to refer children to the Emotional Health and Resilience Team (EHRT) for additional support. The EHRT works with children, young people and families who may require some support regulating and making sense of their emotions. They provide short term, low level support and offer a range of interventions such as:
- 1:1 sessions
- Small group work
- Classroom based lessons
- 1:1 guided self-help
- Group psycho-education
- Parent led CBT
- YAM (Youth aware of mental health)
Support for children offered under ‘Additional Support’ may be recorded via a Pastoral Support Plan in school.
Our offer of more Targeted Support
It may be that having worked with children using various strategies as listed above, we feel, or parents feel, that more targeted, specialist support is needed. It may be that with parental permission we refer to more specialist services or we signpost parents to services where they are able to self-refer for support.
We may refer to Early Help. Early help is not one service, it is a way of providing support to more vulnerable children and families as soon as problems begin to emerge. Support may be provided by One Point Family Workers or via a Team Around the Family approach. Families can be supported through parent groups and groups for children and young people or through the delivery of specific programmes such as Chill Kidz (for children who are struggling with emotions) and through interventions in order to help children manage and understand their worries and anxieties. Family Workers can also work with children experiencing
- Low mood
- Generalised anxiety & social anxiety
- Sleep problems due to anxiety/low-mood
- Simple phobias (excluding blood, needles and vomit)
- Stress management
It may be that a referral to CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service) would be appropriate for the child. CAMHS is the NHS services that assess and treat children and young people with emotional, behavioural or mental health difficulties.
Support for children offered under ‘Targeted Support’ will usually be recorded via a Pastoral Support Plan in school and children may be included on our SEND register as receiving support for social, emotional and mental health issues (SEMH).
What else can parents access to support a child’s mental health and wellbeing?
- Go to your GP as a first port of call as they are a useful place to gain medical support and signposting of local services, or speak to the Family Health Service (formerly known as the School Nursing Team). Referrals for the family Health Service can be made both through your GP and through school.
- Talk to your child’s class teacher or teaching assistant about your child’s needs or your concerns.
- Talk to the school’s SENDCO (Mrs Oxnard) or a member of our school’s wellbeing team.
- Young Minds – The Parents Helpline is available to offer advice to anyone worried about a child or young person under 25. You may have questions about a child’s behaviour, emotional well-being, or mental health condition. You may have a child who’s already been admitted to CAMHS and have questions about their treatment or want to know what to say to your GP when you visit them. Call 0808 802 5544 or visit the website.
There are a wealth of resources out there to support the mental health and wellbeing of both parents and children. Below is a list of links that you may find beneficial. Within Durham there are lots of services available. If you would like further information or support, please contact a member of staff in school.
The following video can be really useful in explaining why we sometimes lose control of our emotions and strategies we can use to stop this from happening.
The following video can be useful in explaining how to deal with challenging emotions to develop resilience.
Advice for parents and carers: talking mental health with young people at primary school
This leaflet which was created alongside the Talking Mental Health Animation & Toolkit, features an introduction from our Patron, Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge who supported the You’re never too young to talk mental health campaign stating the campaign’s resources “demonstrate how we can help children express their feelings, respond appropriately, and prevent small problems from snowballing into bigger ones.” tmh-parent-leaflet-final-web-updated-by-ed-april-2020.pdf (annafreud.org)
Young Minds Publications offers information on a variety of mental health issues from school problems to mental illness in families. https://youngminds.org.uk/shop/publications/
Young minds parents’ survival guide – https://youngminds.org.uk/find-help/for-parents/parents-survival-guide/
Dealing with anxiety – https://tutorful.co.uk/guides/the-expert-guide-to-help-your-child-with-anxiety
Anxiety thermometer: Anxiety Thermometer.pdf
Feelings tracker: Tracking My Feelings.pdf
Mindfulness calendar: Mindfulness Calendar Daily 5 Minute Activities.pdf
Useful links and publications:
Wellbeing for Life
Rollercoaster are a support group for parents/carers who are supporting a child or young person with any kind of emotional or mental health problem including:
- low mood
- self harm
- eating disorders
- sleep problems
- suicidal thoughts
- obsessions and compulsions
You are not alone! Supporting a child or young person with emotional or mental health issues can be challenging, isolating and sometimes feel like you’re riding a real emotional rollercoaster! County Durham’s Families Information Service | Rollercoaster Support Group (countydurhamfamilies.info)
CAMHS stands for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services. CAMHS is the name for the NHS services that assess and treat young people with emotional, behavioural or mental health difficulties.
For more information, visit the website below
CAMHS also have some excellent resources for parents:
If you have suffered a bereavement and feel that school can support, please do contact us.
Books to support Bereavement:
- Dogger – gentle intro to discussion for very young children
- Badger’s Parting Gifts by Susan Varley (particularly useful if an older person has died).
- Michael Rosen’s Sad Book
- Tattybogle by Sandra Ann Horn
- Muddles, Puddles & Sunshine by Winstons Wish – is an activity book.
- Vicky Angel by Jaqueline Wilson (a friend’s death, for older children)