Mental Health & Emotional Wellbeing
At St Leonard's Lower School, we believe in promoting positive mental health and emotional wellbeing to ensure that the school is a community where everyone feels able to flourish and thrive. Our school ethos and values underpin everything that we do.
Who has mental health?
We all have mental health – some people call this emotional health or wellbeing.
What is mental health?
The World Health Organisation defines mental health as a state of wellbeing in which every individual achieves their potential, copes with the normal stresses of life, works productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to their community. Mental health includes our emotional, psychological and social wellbeing. It affects how we think, feel and act. Good mental health and wellbeing is just as important as good physical health. Like physical health, mental health can range across a spectrum from healthy to unwell; it can fluctuate on a daily basis and change over time. Most children grow up mentally healthy, but surveys suggest that more children and young people have problems with their mental health today than 30 years ago. It is thought that this is probably because of changes in the way that we live now and how that affects the experience of growing up.
Things that can help keep children and young people mentally well include:
Other factors are also important, including:
How we support at school
In school, we teach children about what it means to have good mental health and wellbeing throughout our curriculum and daily practice. Our PSHE curriculum focuses specifically on developing children’s social and emotional skills which can prevent poor mental health from developing and help all children cope effectively with setbacks and remain healthy.
Looking after yourself
If things are getting you down, it’s important to recognise this. Talk to someone you trust and see what they think. It is easy to go on struggling with very difficult situations because you feel that you should be able to cope and don’t deserve any help. Come and talk to us, in confidence and let us know when things are tough. As much as you try to hide how you are feeling from your child, they will notice even the smallest changes. Go to your GP if things are really getting on top of you. Asking for some support from your doctor or a referral to a counselling service is a sign of strength. You can’t help your child if you are not being supported yourself.
What if my child is experiencing difficulties with their mental health and wellbeing?
Mental health doesn’t mean being happy all the time and neither does it mean avoiding stresses altogether. One of the most important ways to help your child is to listen to them and take their feelings seriously. In many instances, children and young people’s negative feelings and worries usually pass with the support of their parents and families. It is helpful for the school to know what they are going through at these times, so that staff can be aware of the need and support this.
Coping and adjusting to setbacks are critical life skills for children, just as they are for adults, but it is important that they develop positive, rather than negative, coping skills. If you are ever worried about your child’s mental health and wellbeing then, just as you would about any concerns that you have about their learning, you can talk to their teacher or another adult at school. Sometimes children will need additional support for a short period – this may be in the form of a daily check-in with a trusted adult, time to talk through what they are feeling and support in developing ways of moving forwards with this.
If your child is distressed for a long time, if their negative feelings are stopping them from getting on with their lives, if their distress is disrupting family life or if they are repeatedly behaving in ways you would not expect at their age, then please speak to your child's teacher.
Please do speak to your child's class teacher or Mrs Bowley if you are concerned about your child.
We have a wide range of resources and can offer interventions to support emotional well-being.
Mrs Joanne Newens is our trained Emotional Literacy Support Assistant and runs emotional literacy support interventions in school on Monday and Tuesday afternoons. Please see the leaflet below to find out more about her role.
We work with other schools in our local learning community (LC2). We can refer to the LC2 family and child support worker and/or counsellor.
We also work with the Bedfordshire CAMHS Mental Health Support Team who are offering further direct support to schools. Our CAMHS practitioners visit school at least termly to offer help and advice.
Find out more via the leaflets below.
We use the Early Help Assessment Process to help to support children and families who are in need of support. You can find out more here:
Benjamin Bunny and Peter Rabbit are our school rabbits.
They teach the children about responsibility and care for pets and animals. They also support our pupil's emotional and mental wellbeing. The children take turns to look after them and to pet them.
We have a duty of care to our rabbits, just as we do with our children. They are very happy and well looked after bunnies who have a healthy diet, lots of space to live and run around in and regular veterinary care. Their home is in a quiet area of our school garden.
‘Huge Bag of Worries’ by Virginia Ironside
‘Helping your child with Fears and Worries 2nd Edition: A self help guide for parents’ by Cathy Creswell and Lucy Willetts
‘Starving the Anxiety Gremlin’ by Kate Collins-Donnelly
‘What to do when you worry too much’ by Dawn Huebner
When my worries get too big - by Kari Dunn Buron
Don't worry be happy by Poppy O'Neill
Managing Stress - BBC - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hnpQrMqDoqE
Fight, Flight Freeze Response - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jEHwB1PG_-Q
CALM Technique by Jennifer Kolari - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q28IrZq14hk
Anxiety Canada - https://www.anxietycanada.com/
Therapist Aid - https://www.therapistaid.com/
Young Minds - https://youngminds.org.uk/resources/
Anna Freud Self Care Materials - https://www.annafreud.org/on-my-mind/self-care/
‘Starving the Anger Gremlin’ by Kate Collins-Donnelly
Why Do We Lose Control of Our Emotions? - https://www.youtube.com/watchv=3bKuoH8CkFc&feature=youtu.be
‘The Incredible Years’ by Carolyn Webster-Stratton
Upside of Anger TED Talk with Dr Ryan Martin - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kfcQaXG_Qhs
If you have any recommendations from local private therapists please do let the school know so that we can add to this page.
Tips on staying well
If you need to speak to someone, you can text or call:
Age UK: visit www.ageuk.org.uk or call 0800 678 1602 (8am-7pm)
Every Mind Matters: visit www.nhs.uk/oneyou/every-mind-matters
Heads Up for men's mental health: visit www.thisisheads-up.uk
Five ways to wellbeing: visit www.milton-keynes.gov.uk/5waysmk
Our Frontline – support for frontline workers. Visit www.mentalhealthatwork.org.uk/ourfrontline or text: FRONTLINE to 85258 or call 116 123 for a conversation with a trained volunteer
National Debt Line – free and independent advice. Call 0808 808 4000 9am - 8pm Monday - Friday or visit www.nationaldebtline.org
Accessing local support when you're struggling
Domestic abuse: if you’re feeling unsafe, support is available
Mrs Sarah Bowley is a trained Domestic Abuse responder. You can talk to her if you need to..
If you or someone you know is affected by domestic abuse, call the National Domestic Abuse Helpline on 0808 2000 247. You can also visit the Bedfordshire Domestic Abuse Partnership website for more information about local and national support for all affected by domestic abuse, including men, children and young people, older people and people from the LGBT+ community. If you’re in immediate danger, always dial 999.