Girl at desk being thoughtful

Mental health and wellbeing

At Churchfields Junior School, we know that our role is to ensure that pupils are able to manage times of change and stress, and that they are supported to reach their potential or access help when they need it. We also have a role to ensure that pupils learn about what they can do to maintain positive mental health, what affects their mental health, how they can help reduce the stigma surrounding mental health issues, and where they can go if they need help and support.

 

What is mental health and wellbeing?

To avoid ambiguity or confusion, as a school community we use the World Health Organisation’s definition of mental health and wellbeing “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”.

 

Whole school approach

We take a whole school approach to promoting positive mental health and ensuring the pupil are positive, resilient and able to deal with the stresses of the school day. We recognize the stigma behind talking about mental health and aim to create a school environment which is open and supportive with a positive culture where pupils feel comfortable discussing a range of issues.

Mental health and wellbeing is not just the absence of mental health problems. We want all pupils to:

 

  • Feel confident in themselves and realise their own abilities
  • Cope with the stresses of everyday life
  • Work productively and being able to learn and achieve
  • Be able to express a range of emotions appropriately
  • Be able to make and maintain positive relationships with others and make a contribution to their community
  • Manage times of stress and be able to deal with change

Our wellbeing aims

Our aim is to help develop the protective factors which build resilience to mental health problems and to be a school where:

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All pupils are valued

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Pupils have a sense of belonging and feel safe

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Pupils feel able to talk openly with trusted adults about their problems without feeling any stigma

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Help pupils socially to form and maintain relationships

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Positive mental health is promoted and valued: this includes promoting self-esteem, encourage pupils to be confident and help pupils develop emotional resilience through managing setbacks

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Enable and support early identification of vulnerable pupils and early intervention of need

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Bullying is not tolerated

  • All pupils are valued
  • Pupils have a sense of belonging and feel safe
  • Pupils feel able to talk openly with trusted adults about their problems without feeling any stigma
  • Help pupils socially to form and maintain relationships
  • Positive mental health is promoted and valued: this includes promoting self-esteem, encourage pupils to be confident and help pupils develop emotional resilience through managing setbacks
  • Enable and support early identification of vulnerable pupils and early intervention of need
  • Bullying is not tolerated

We promote a mentally healthy environment through:

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Access to a range of appropriate support that meets their needs

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Providing opportunities to reflect both internally and where necessary with an external agency

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Providing opportunities to develop a sense of worth through taking responsibility for themselves and others

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Celebrating academic and non-academic achievements

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Promoting pupil voice and opportunities to participate in decision-making within class and across the school through pupil leadership groups

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Promoting our school values and encouraging a sense of belonging

We pursue our aims through:

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Specialised, targeted approaches aimed at pupils with more complex or long term difficulties including attachment disorder

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Support for pupils going through recent difficulties including bereavement (see Bereavement Policy).

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Universal, whole school approaches

Whole school approach

We aim to create a school environment which is open and supportive with a positive culture through seven aspects:

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Creating an ethos, policies and behaviours that support and promote positive mental health and resilience, and which everyone understands

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Helping pupils to develop social relationships, support each other and to feel able to seek help when they need it

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Helping pupils to be resilient learners who are able to manage the stresses of everyday life

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Teaching pupils social and emotional skills and an awareness of mental health; destigmatize mental health

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Early identification of pupils who have mental health needs and planning support to meet their needs, including working with specialist services and tailored individual plans

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Effectively working with parents and carers

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Supporting and training staff to develop their skills and their own resilience

  • Creating an ethos, policies and behaviours that support and promote positive mental health and resilience, and which everyone understands
  • Helping pupils to develop social relationships, support each other and to feel able to seek help when they need it
  • Helping pupils to be resilient learners who are able to manage the stresses of everyday life
  • Teaching pupils social and emotional skills and an awareness of mental health; destigmatize mental health
  • Early identification of pupils who have mental health needs and planning support to meet their needs, including working with specialist services and tailored individual plans
  • Effectively working with parents and carers
  • Supporting and training staff to develop their skills and their own resilience

Strategies to help children in school and home who are suffering from anxiety

Praise and acknowledge accomplishments

Confidence

Children who don’t have a lot of confidence tend to focus on only the negative aspects of what they are doing. Make it a point to praise and acknowledge your child when they do something correctly, both in private and in front of others.

 

Praise for effort

Specific and genuine praise helps children know that you’re paying attention and helps them acknowledge their own small wins. Giving short feedback or giving a round of applause for your child can make a world of difference. Praise for effort is a vital aspect of this and is more important than praise for outcome.

Create realistic expectations

Realistic expectations

Be realistic about what your child can accomplish. While it would be nice to see every child make achievements high above the norm, it’s just not attainable for some.

 

Setting manageable goals

Have children create their own set of goals and things they would like to accomplish during the school year, and then sit down and review their lists with them. Setting goals that are manageable and reasonable for your child can help them see how much they’ve grown. Try to personalise and create goals that represent your child.

Embrace a growth mindset

Mistakes are inevitable

No child is perfect, so mistakes are inevitable. Those with low confidence may focus on their failures and not see the progress that they’ve made.

 

Adopting a growth mindset

Use mistakes or failures as teaching moments for your child. Remind them that they are not defined by their shortcomings, and reassure them to keep moving forward in their studies. You may hear this practice described as adopting a growth mindset, where children move away from saying things like “not” and “can’t” to saying something more positive like “not yet“.

 

If I couldn’t handle not being good at something, then how could I consider myself a successful person?

Increase sense of ownership

Learning ownership

Urge your child to take ownership of their learning by providing them with opportunities for decision-making when it comes to the independent tasks or rules at home. While it can be tempting to just guide children through an independent task and show them how it’s done, prompt them to reach the final answer in their own way.

 

“Must Do” and “May Do”

One way to do this is to create a list of “must do” and “may do” checklist for your child to complete. Sometimes, you’ll need your child to complete a certain independent task to assess their understanding, which would make it a “must do.” Then, your child can look to the “may do” list to have a choice in what they want to work on next. Children will have a greater sense of pride in their learning when they feel a sense of control.

Don’t compare one child to another

Differentiated learning and goals

Your child has their own sets of unique strengths, talents, and needs. Accept that some children will have strengths where others don’t, and don’t treat them as a homogenous group. Differentiated learning and goals can help children identify how they learn best.

 

Notice different strengths and learning styles

When children feel like their needs aren’t being met in the classroom and at home, they may feel like they’re not welcome. Take notice of the different strengths and learning styles your child has, and at home create an environment that fosters the unique abilities of your child. When children are in-tune with what works best in helping them learn, they may begin to empathise with each other and yourself and have open dialogue around successful strategies.

Increase the sense of responsibility

Allow your child to help others at home

Children need to feel a sense of worth and achievement both within the classroom and at home. Allow children the opportunities to help others at home and then ask them to reflect on how it made them feel and how successful they were in assisting other.

 

Give your child a targeted and specific job

Give your child the opportunities to feel special and like they have accomplished something through a targeted and specific job. All these strategies can help children who are struggling with anxiety.

Reflect on achievements

Identify the positives

Children need to feel like they have achieved something worthwhile. Work in opportunities throughout the day for children to reflect on what has gone well within a social situation or a piece of work or aspect of their work that they are proud of. If children begin to identify the positives, then it will give them a sense of belonging and achievement and allow them to reflect on the day.

Identify anxiety

Distract your child from anxiety

Children feel empowered if they are given the opportunities and responsibility to reflect and identify when they are feeling anxious. Families are then able to build in opportunities to allow your child to talk about something they can do which will help distract them from their anxieties. This can also mean factoring in breaks for the children affected so they can have a minute where they remove themselves from the stresses of homework or a certain task.

Useful websites for families

Young Minds have lots of practical advice and tips on supporting your child – from how to encourage your child to open up about their feelings to dealing with mental health services.

Anna Freud National centre for Children and Families are committed to discovering and sharing the best way to help children, young people, families, carers and professionals affected by mental health problems.

Childnet’s website contains tips on what you need to know as a parent, the latest risks and how to seek help if you know someone at risk.

The Internet Matters website provides lots of useful articles on online safety, as well as a detailed look at the issues that can affect children.

The parent section of this website contains tips, advice, guides and resources  to help keep your child safe online.

Service offering help to children and young people who are experiencing emotional, behavioural or mental health difficulties.