At St Botolph’s, we pride ourselves on offering our children quality education within a safe and nurturing environment. We continually strive to improve, giving our children exciting opportunities to broaden their horizons.
The St Botolph’s Curriculum has carefully planned activities and learning which matches our children’s needs, expanding their opportunities and widening their horizons. Learning is carefully connected, interweaving knowledge and skills to make it meaningful, while ensuring that the National Curriculum is followed.
Mental health is an individual’s cognitive, behavioural and emotional wellbeing (Mind, 2020). It’s something we all have – including every child and young person.
We use the term “mental health issues” to refer to mental health problems, conditions and mental illnesses. These issues may or may not be medically diagnosed.
Mental health is as important to a child’s safety and wellbeing as their physical health. It can impact on all aspects of their life, including their educational attainment, relationships and physical wellbeing. Mental health can also change over time, to varying degrees of seriousness, and for different reasons.
At St. Botolph’s Church of England School we aim to promote good mental health and wellbeing for our whole community: students, staff, parents and carers. This can include:
encouraging healthy eating
awareness raising and training
helping with online wellbeing
our PSHE curriculum
working in partnership with parents/carers
signposting sources of external advice and help.
Supporting children with mental health issues
It can be difficult for children and young people to speak out about the challenges they’re feeling. So, it’s crucial that school staff are able to recognise the signs that a child may be struggling with their mental health, and that they know how to take appropriate action to support children and young people in getting the help they need.
At St. Botolph’s our Senior Mental Health Lead is Mrs J Harding and the Mental Health Lead is Mrs S Street. They will support staff with recognising and supporting mental health issues.
We need to be able to recognise the signs that a child may be struggling. However, it’s important to remember that some mental health issues may not have visible signs. There are also factors that might make it more difficult for a child or young person to ask for help. Children may not always have the language or ability to communicate how they feel. They may be unsure who to talk to and how to talk about their problems.
Some children and young people may try to hide how they are feeling or what they are doing. This might be because they:
worry they won’t be taken seriously
believe others won’t understand
have had a negative experience talking about their thoughts and feelings in the past
feel that no one can help them
fear being dismissed or labelled an attention seeker or crazy
(Mental Health Foundation and Camelot Foundation, 2006).
Signs of child mental health issues
There are ways we can identify if a child needs support with their mental health. By being attentive to a child or young person’s mood and behaviour, you can recognise patterns that suggest they need support.
Common warning signs of mental health issues include:
sudden mood and behaviour changes
unexplained physical changes, such as weight loss or gain
sudden poor academic behaviour or performance
changes in social habits, such as withdrawal or avoidance of friends and family
These signs suggest that a child may be struggling, but there could be a number of different explanations for them.
Responding to child mental health issues
All children and young people should have someone they can talk to about whatever they’re going through, regardless of whether they have a mental health condition. It’s important not to wait for them to talk to you before trying to start a conversation. All children should be encouraged to talk with trusted adults.
At St. Botolph’s we aim to create an open and safe environment where children and young people are comfortable speaking about their mental health. We ensure children know who they can talk to — and we make this pool of people as wide as possible. Discussions about mental health and wellbeing are integrated into the curriculum and we gain information about children’s mental health regularly. We will support children at school but will also work in partnership with parents/carers and signpost/refer to other external agencies where necessary.