World Mental Health Day: This time, I’m not here to make a case but to celebrate…..

It was September 2015, first day back INSET day, I was given the stage to explain to our staff WHY there was a need for my new role – to be Head of student mental health and wellbeing.

In 2015, this role hardly existed in schools and as you can imagine, the room was filled with pockets of staunch teacher scepticism.
But that morning, I was driven by my WHY

Why the need?

As I faced my colleagues to make a case, I held the faces of many students in my mind.
Those young people, over the years, who’d hung around my classroom door wanting to chat to me….some had sexual orientation challenges, others anxiety issues, a few were early stages of self-harming, some being bullied, others considerably lonely but I , like so many other teachers, had very limited time to listen to them and in those days, feeling helpless – the norm was to refer these children to an overburdened and understaffed SEN – when I knew and they knew – their struggle was not about learning needs.
Their struggle was Mental Health.
Our school was rapidly becoming a typical example of the mental health crisis being cited in Department of Education papers:

One in ten children and young people (5-16) have clinically diagnosed mental health disorders and approximately one in seven has less severe problems (cited in Department of Education: Mental Health and Behaviour in Schools, June 2014).

Two years later…
I have a new stage.
This time, I’m not here to make a case, but to celebrate!
To celebrate the infinite possibilities that exist for teachers and tens of thousands of students…..
To celebrate that it is possible – for every school to develop a robust proactive and pre-emptive mental health support program

Here is a quick overview of some of the measures we rolled out at The Magna Carta School in Staines-upon-Thames.

When it comes to rolling out your mental health and wellbeing  initiatives think 6-pronged approach:  Research; whole school values; physical resources; staff training and wellbeing; peer mentoring; parent and community engagement; PSHE and cross-curriculum resources.

Do your research.  School based research is vital. Every community is different as will their needs be. Conduct student and staff focus groups and surveys into the mental health and wellbeing barometer of your school. Don’t be afraid to hear the truth. The data will drive your initiatives and ensure you have grass roots ownership with all the changes.

Change the language of learning to ensure our mental health is seen as important as achieving good grades.
Destigmatize the topic ‘mental health.’  Our school wall murals, designed by artist Matt Lambert, publicly start the conversation about our mental health. They are given as much importance as our Growth Mind-set murals found elsewhere round the school

wb zone wall

Start at the top. Staff wellbeing is vital. Make sure you run a parallel program looking at staff wellbeing and run a ‘You said We did’ respons within the term of conducting your  survey. Make a concerted effort for leadership to model good working practice and life/work balance.

Re-evaluate the values you champion as a school. In the lead up to Christmas we roll out our #familyMH5aday campaign with years 7 and 8 and  champion the G.R.E.A.T values. These values encourage us to make small life style changes in the direction of life/work balance, bigger picture and positive mental health.
family mh5 a day 2

I was delighted to see one teacher encourage students to use this language when talking about exam preparation and devising their revision schedules. Placing emphasis on their wellbeing is vital to ensuring academic progress.

Separate Mental Health support from SEN support. Although sometimes they are inextricably linked; the interventions required are very different. Young people are more likely to self-refer or accept support for mental health if they feel that we recognize the difference between mental health and learning needs

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Based on our research we knew we had to create spaces to ensure the young people knew where to go; when to go and who they could expect to speak to –  hence the wellbeing zone.  You don’t need to build new rooms you simply map your wellbeing zone with curriculum spaces. For example, by lesson time the rooms are Humanities and ICT but at lunchtimes the corridor comes alive as the wellbeing zone.

You don’t need to hire new staff – look at strengths within your own staff .  Our role as schools is not to diagnose  but instead to ensure we are proactive and pre-emptive. To make a start, You do not ‘have to have’ an in-house counselor or trained therapist. Yes, of course it would be ideal to have this professional resource and support in every school but realistically speaking, with budget cuts, this is just not possible at the moment.
What you do need are empathetic, caring compassionate peers and teachers who are properly trained in being able to spot the signs; have a conversation with the student and a robust internal referral and tracking system for intervention work. This is achievable.
Assign a senior member of staff to lead and a governing body member to have it as part of their portfolio. Free up 1 member of staff who is a non-teacher and not a TA to be your youth mental health student co-coordinator. Look at the extra curricular strengths and interests found in your staff body and tap into their expertise. One of our English teachers –  is also a qualified yoga teacher . As part of our intervention and support  she is timetabled to deliver hatha yoga and mindfulness as a weekly intervention for students suffering from increasing anxiety and panic attacks. She also offers a weekly yoga class for our staff to support their wellbeing.

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Train your students and staff properly. We used RELATE the charity to train our wellbeing student ambassadors and The Charlie Waller Memorial Trust offer superb resources for staff training. We are also looking forward to our Mental Health First Aid training coming up in a few weeks.

wellbeing ambassadors

Think out the box with your interventions.  We have in place opportunities for 1:1 and group work but sometimes – for numerous reasons-  the young person does not want to sit and talk. Finding time for intervention work during the school day is also difficult.

In response to this we have rolled out extra-curricular intervention support which may last a few weeks or a few days:

The Love Bread challenge: Students learnt all about the science of making their own bread and then they got to bake their own pizzas, focaccias and take a ‘mother’ sourdough starter home to feed and nurture.

The Chef’s Challenge: Students cooked a different 2 course meal each week, set up by chef Mark Lloyd, and then sat down to eat & chat celebrating each other’s efforts in cooking their evening dinner.
The Bicycle Challenge: Old bicycles have been donated and under the guidance of 2 enthusiastic bike engineer teachers, from the DT department, they are being taught how to remove worn bits and re-assemble with new parts so they can cycle away with it.

The Bush craft Challenge: Students got to explore Survival Bush craft skills: fire lighting, tracking, shelter building, Nature art, campfire cooking, outdoor trust games, 1 to1 sessions, personal development exercises and Mindfulness in nature


What was essential was:
The Staff used were ready to move out of their teaching roles and get on a level playing field with the young person and complete a creative task with them, engaging in discussions and listening with compassion and empathy.  Students feel deeply appreciative when they are simply understood – not evaluated, not judged, simply understood from their own point of view, not the teacher’s.

Track your interventions measuring impact. We have trialled out various systems including a software called Provision mapping so our SEN, Behavioural and Mental health interventions can all be tracked in one place ensuring we effectively triage before an intervention is rolled out; we don’t double up; are all joined up and get an overall picture of a student’s progress.

Engage your parents and local community. We have a parent wellbeing ambassadors network group who have advised on how we could conduct the #familyMH5aday campaign mentioned earlier and, together with a local charity East To West, hosted half termly  ‘parent headspace’ chat sessions.

Use your PSHE lessons to effectively deliver mental health awareness lessons and to teach positive mental health strategies. We are in our first year of  rolling out MINDUP which is a 15-week mindfulness and resilience program being delivered in PSHE to over 200 year 8 students.

Think cross-curricular and embrace the theme through your subjects. We got a class of mixed ability year 9 media students to build their own mental health and wellbeing app called My TeenMind. They built it with the  help of Gaia tech and the support of local charity Woking Mind. This app is now part of a 7 lesson PSHE scheme of work where the students are presented with  fictitious scenarios about a peer and they have to explore and  use the app to find the right  information to help signpost support.

 

Finally, there is no quick fix. Don’t think a 1 day or 6 -week intervention will ‘sort’ the problem out.

The key to a school based mental health program is about ensuring our staff and our young people are literate about their mental and emotional health; that they take ownership of it; that there is no shame in talking about it; and that there are spaces and people who are trained and have time to listen enabling us to make informed choices when we are faced with the inevitable struggles that life will throw at us.

Blog written to mark  2017 World Mental Health Day.

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‘Mottos only matter if you live by them rather than fill your house to make it look nice’ (guest blog by @heley007)

“Morning ladies- not sure if you have seen my call to women in education for a blog on #pledgeforchange… not sure if you are interested in taking part” (@cerasmusteach) such an empowering and exciting statement which instantly provoked a mixture of thoughts, ideas and feelings within me (not bad for a dreary Tuesday morning before any coffee had been consumed).
Initially, I thought ‘Wow! Brilliant! Count me in’ which was quickly followed by ‘ I’ve always wanted to write in an open forum or follow that dream of being an author- maybe this could be my springboard?’ Then the ‘Girl power’ side of me came out and I thought, ‘join these inspirational and empowering women in a pledge for change in Education and stand together in unity to promote the amazing work we do… where do I sign up?’
However, once I had dug out my ‘90s Ginger Spice union Jack dress and was just getting ready to do some high kicks in a Sporty Spice style, that annoying voice came slithering into my head, you know the one which we all have and seeks to undermine us and makes us want to hideaway forever.

‘You can’t blog. Why would anyone be interested in what you have to say?’
‘How can you make a pledge for change when you can’t even decide where to eat for dinner or have a coffee with your friends if you are asked let alone make a decision about what you want to change in the new academic year!’
‘You always talk the talk but let’s face it, you never walk the walk’
‘You know that you are a fraud as an English teacher and therefore cannot write at all… so let’s stop all this nonsense, grab a bar of chocolate and hide under a blanket until this all blows over.’

AHH- don’t you just hate that voice? And isn’t it amazing that it seems to overshadow our positive voice? Not very ‘Growth Mindset’ is it?

That’s when it hit me; I was a fraud, not as an English teacher, but a fraud more to myself. I spend 95% of my time and energy telling those around me not to give up, that they can achieve anything they want and, most importantly, I bang the drum for ‘Growth Mindset’. This is not only in my role as a teacher and SENCo, but also with my family. I have two gorgeous nephews and I am constantly telling them they can be whatever they want to be as long as they put in the practice, never give up and believe they can achieve. I even read the fantastically written ‘You are Awesome’ by Matthew Syed which encourages children to focus exactly on that- never giving up, believing in themselves and being more ‘Growth Mindset.’
So, how could I look my nephews, my family, my friends and students in the eyes and tell them to embrace ‘Growth Mindset’ if at the first opportunity I have to try something new or start that step towards a dream, I reach for a blanket, grab a bar of chocolate and hide away?

life starts

My hypocrisy stared at me in my face…literally. I have a cushion on my bed with the motto ‘Life starts at the end of your comfort zone’ and there it was on the floor, discarded from the night before after I had thrown it off the bed, staring up at me and questioning where my drive had gone.
I had bought the pillow 18 months early when I started to separate from my Ex- Husband and wanted to take back control of my life. And boy, had I…
I had started to make changes around the house to make my own mark, I joined the gym, went swimming, saw family more and slowly changed and adapted to a new way of living. I even had stepped out of my comfort zone and had joined an amateur dramatic group to get out there and meet new people.
Now on this dreary Tuesday morning, I realised that I had not stepped out of my comfort Zone for such a long time that I felt I had become stagnant and the world was passing me by.
Thus the final realisation came to me, where had my confidence gone?
To my colleagues and friends this might come as a surprise, but actually I am not a very confident person at all. Sure I can be loud, the life and soul of a party and there for a laugh when needed, but when it comes to being a teacher, SENCo or Middle Leader my confidence levels are rock bottom.
I began to wonder, how many women out there had put in the groundwork into a new project or idea before passing this on to someone else to add a finishing touch to and watched, amazed, as they took all the recognition and praise for their efforts because they did not have the confidence to speak up and ‘own’ the work they had done?
There have been a few occasions over my career where I have had an idea that I wanted to run with but never had the guts to speak out about it. I have metaphorically kicked myself when that same idea has been floated by someone else and has caused for positive change to take place.
How was this being a confident woman of the 21st Century or even encouraging an ethos of change for women in education if I was blending into the background and not telling people about the things I had achieved?

little fierce 2

‘And though she be but little she is fierce’ this was recently referenced by @vickmerc in her blog #pledgeforchange and my initial thought was ‘Oh this is my motto and I can’t use that now as people will think I am copying her’ (I have an abridged version in my light box and the quote is my ‘cover photo’ on Facebook and not just because I think it looks ‘nice’!) Then I reminded myself that I am not a teenager and that this is something I have surrounded myself with in my house in order to give me the confidence and courage to push myself out of my comfort zone and challenge myself for change. If this also brings some courage and confidence to a close colleague and friend, than lets be little and fierce together and start making changes for women in education!
Fellow women in education, indeed in all industries, here are my pledges for change and my promise that I will no longer have mottos in my house because they look nice.
1) Challenge: this relates not only to me continuing to challenge my students’ fixed mindsets in becoming more growth mindset but to challenge myself to become more growth mindset and practice what I am preaching.
2) Communication: Share my ideas regardless of whether I think they will be successful or not- essentially ‘Be more pirate’ (another excellent book I read over the summer by Sam Conniff Allende.) If I want change to happen or if I don’t agree with an idea, communicate this and come up with a solution or new way of working.
3) Confidence: have the confidence to step out of my comfort zone in order to help progress my career and my personal life in order to feel that I am contributing and in control of what is happening around me, that my ideas are not worthless and that I am not simply observing changes but actively driving them.
4) Collaboration: work with the other fabulous women in school to develop and shape cultural change in education and to provide that safe space where we can share ideas and how we are feeling without fear of judgement.

A guest blog by Helen Heath for #womened #pledgeforchange #DGMeetweek

I am not lost (by @vickmerc)

(This is a Guest Blog for  debut blogger Victoria Mercer @vickmerc for the #WomenEd #Pledgeforchange #DGMeetweek)

In my career, I have faced the challenge of being young in the world of teaching. I first stepped into my school at age 21 and remember a senior member of staff telling me they were worried that I’d “get lost” in the classroom; firstly because I’m short and secondly because I was so young.

I didn’t let that stop me.

I’ve never worn heels in the classroom and I often teach Year 10 & 11 students who are over 6ft tall and tower above me.

4 years down the line, I am not lost.

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I am now going into my second year as Head of Year and have embraced the challenge of pastoral leadership. It comes with difficulties and everyday I face something new and unfamiliar. It is by no means an easy job.

I sometimes have parents look at me like I’m too young, or meet a parent after weeks of speaking on the phone and they comment on how young I am. I have a baby face and sometimes I do feel like I’m playing the part of a teacher – rather than actually being one. But I’m doing alright for myself and more importantly, I love it.

In October last year, 4 weeks into the new role, I cried my eyes out after a phone call with a parent who shouted at me. I shut my office door and sobbed to my colleague. I couldn’t do this, how could I have people be so rude to me and be okay with it? But that was the first step to learning.

A few weeks before we finished for summer, I had a similar phone call with a different parent and came off the phone feeling as tall as my gangly Year 11 boys. I’d stayed calm, I’d talked her down from her anger, and more than that, we ended the call on a positive. For every difficult parent and every uncomfortable conversation, I have to remember that there are twice as many people rooting for me, proud of what I’m doing and encouraging me to grow (metaphorically, of course.)

So at 25 years old, 5ft 1 (at a push) and 4 years into teaching, I genuinely believe that I have the best job in the world. A student messaged me on results’ day this year and thanked me for believing in her, when she didn’t believe in herself.

I look at the students I teach, particularly shy and anxious girls, and it makes me believe that my #pledgeforchange is to encourage all students that they can take the brave leap into the world of being an adult, and I hope that they too feel like they can find themselves; no one wants to get lost.

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Halfway. Bring it on.

 

I started teaching in 1993. I took about 5 years out to travel, explore other professions and have 2 children leaving about 20 years actively in the classroom. I’ve been told by the Government that my retirement age is 68. I’m 48. That leaves ANOTHER 20 years of teaching. Crikey. That means I’m now halfway.

 

Only halfway? I ask incredulously.

Working 5 days as a teacher is full on.
I hear some of my colleagues cashing in at 55 and saying, “enough!” securing another life after teaching.
Others opting out because ……
Teaching is a tough gig.
It does not feel as if it’s getting any easier either – as I go up through the ranks it’s definitely tougher. Not just the workload expectations of having to back up evidence for everything; chase paperwork; be a fortune teller and predict impossible grades in a constant changing education landscape but also a magician and work wonders with a decreasing budget!

 

So, what are my options?

opt out?

Hell no. it’s going to be a case of opt more in.

If this incredible profession is going to get the best part of my lifetime then I will make sure that it’s worth it, that I am an active part of it and can help shift the status quo striving to campaign,  raise awareness and implement the values that are important to me.

So, my #pledgeforchange for #womened #dgmeetweek

1. It’s about balance & I will speak up. Balance for teacher wellbeing but also balance in the curriculum. It is not raising standards and academic grades at the expense of mental wellbeing.
2. To support the leaders behind great movements and values I champion. I search high and low to work with great leaders who I share the same values with – which is why I am at my current school – BrightonHill Community school  working with Chris Edwards. We often are so busy looking at what an organisation can do for us we forget to think about what we can do for those who we admire and are leading. It’s my pledge to keep supporting courageous leaders and to help champion the shared mission. I aim to actively support leadership voices I admire in #WomenED, #DisabilityED, #DiversityED , #BameEd ensuring change towards a more equitable & inclusive education system and society.
3. Make the most of coaching and mentoring – I have been offered wonderful support from two GREAT #womenED supporters and educators both who have journeyed as outstanding Headteachers – Sue Webb and Alison Kriel –  and I intend to make the most of their leadership expertise and their powerful mantra about values and authenticity.
4. Prepare myself physically and mentally for the long haul in this profession I’m on a mission to shift a few pounds and have had a great 5-week holiday focusing on this and will continue to focus daily on my breathing and mental self through mindfulness.
5. To keep learning things which have nothing to do with my occupation. Behind every attempt to try something new I learn something more about myself and life.

An anecdote:

Recently I challenged myself to complete a 2 day windsurfing course. Last time I embraced water sports was 25 years ago, so this was out of my comfort zone
What I loved about Windsurfing is that it  demanded ALL of my attention – everything else I was  thinking about  just slipped out of my mind. At the end of the day – when I came back to it – I seemed clearer about what I had to do.
What have I taken away for my lessons in LIFE?
• Balance is key. Don’t work against the forces but rather harness the energy of the forces to move you forward in the direction you want to move in.
• Live in the moment and concentrate on what is at hand.
• Listen to your body and respond ensuring there is no unnecessary strain or pain.
• Carpe diem- seize the day and savour the feeling of Joy when it all comes together and you get it right.

Finally – If you don’t fall off the board anymore you have stopped learning. Once you have mastered something ditch the routine and try something new on the board.

If I can keep learning, not fearing the fact that I will fail – I will have the right attitude to the multitude of challenges I have yet to face.

 

windsurfing

Me,  hanging in there and loving it 🙂

IN 2018/19 WHAT WILL BE YOUR PLEDGE FOR CHANGE? #womened #pledgeforchange #DGMeetweek

pledger for change

Nearing the end of the academic term I’m feeling a mixture of hope and frustrations

Hope

Hope because there are increasingly more leaders in education who are embracing the concept of staff and student mental wellbeing as being intrinsic to what we teach, how we teach and what we value as central to having a positive culture and education environment.
Hope because the organisation #WomenEd, which aims to Connect existing and aspiring women leaders in global education, has grown in numbers and countries in tackling gender equality; gender pay gap; gender and diversity representation in leadership; flexible working conditions and is empowering women to be 10% braver.
Hope because thanks to The DfE coaching pledge, inviting all current leaders to make a voluntary pledge to coach aspiring female leaders, I have been offered coaching sessions supporting me in my leadership role, through leadership development opportunities & sharing of great practice.

Frustrations

Frustrated because of the lack of Diversity on our school leadership boards . Great Britain is not an all white, all male society: Why am I predominantly seeing this on many of our school leadership boards? What message is this sending out to our young people and to our fellow colleagues?

Frustrated because some of my colleagues, around the country, are still micromanaged- their authentic styles and spirits muted due to a desire for control and cosmetic uniformity and the culture still exists that you should sacrifice your family by working at weekends and late on week nights meeting impossible deadlines and expectations.

Frustrated because I recently had a conversation with a senior female leader and we were discussing her leadership journey. Part of her reply was this: I had to work 10 x harder to be recognised. I had to be 10x better than the men to be legitimatised for the appointment.
This left me deflated as I felt this was still intrinsic to female leadership opportunities in the workplace

During the summer holidays I hope to spend a lot of time reading, swimming, cycling, camping and relaxing with friends and family. This period is a vital window for me as a teacher – allowing me to completely unwind and focus on my wellbeing, my relationships, my family.

But as August ends I will start to feel that familiar tightness in my stomach as I acknowledge the infinite list of things I must get through in the first academic term; The juggling act of work-parenting -being in a relationship; The difficulty of striving for balance so my own mental wellbeing is carefully monitored; feeling passionate and driven enough to do ‘another year’ because I feel like what I’m doing matters – has value – makes me feel valued.
I will also find myself dealing with the familiar self-doubts creeping in; questioning my career journey – the possibilities that might happen – and those deep frustrations echoed earlier with the status quo and the nation’s education system. I don’t want to have these same frustrations next year.

The conditions surrounding my working life cannot be on ’Repeat.’

It is important I harness these thoughts and frustrations and channel the energy into bringing about positive change.

To do this, I’m calling on the tribe #WomenEd to join me in writing a blog where we announce our Pledge for Change.

WOMENED VALUES

WHEN: Post a blog, anytime in the last week of August from Friday 24th August till Friday 31st August
WHERE: Post your blogs on social media platforms (Facebook or/and Twitter)

HOW: Use all three hashtags when posting #womened #pledgeforchange #DGMeetweek

WHO: Anyone who supports the #WomenEd values including #HeforShe supporters. You don’t need to let us know you will post a blog  – simply post a blog sometime in that week. 
OBJECTIVE: In the spirit of the WomenEd 8 x C values – To communicate and be heard; to find solidarity though our global connection ; To build relationships, collaborate and be forward and outward looking ; to challenge our thinking and the organisations in which we work; to read each other’s pledges and remind ourselves we are not alone but we are a powerful community ready and committed to supporting each other; to believe in ourselves and be 10% braver with our pledges, taking ourselves out of our comfort zone, and building confidence; to blog with clarity about the changes we want to see and what we will do to enable that change.

I hope the thousands of followers will join me in being 10% braver and reflect and pledge on how we can harness our thoughts/frustrations/energies into bringing about positive change for gender stereotyping in education; young girls still denied an education; female representation in education; gender pay gap; mothers working in education and our own career paths in education as we smash those glass ceilings. Always being driven by our values and desire for an inclusive culture that promotes equal opportunity in every aspect of education.

 

#stillmarching #100years

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I’m still marching so that ONE DAY ……..

…no woman feels she has to cower in fear whilst a man physically, mentally and emotionally abuses her and their children and she remains silenced by his voice and force.

…..Domestic, rape and sexual abuse  is tackled through changing culture in our society  and not have to be tackled through law courts

….all women have the ‘Right to choose’ and backstreet abortions by desperate women and subsequent fatalities are prevented

….all institutions, in every workplace, ensure they are paying more than lip service to the principles of equality and diversity and are held to account to  create pathways inspiring all to lead; ensuring fair representation and leadership for all minority groups.

……. the school curriculum, in every school, delivers robust lessons every year, which raise the profile and empower young women to be part of the change and engendered bias is recognised

….. a woman’s hormonal cycle…her period and menopause is not ridiculed, mocked, ignored and in some cultures seen as shameful

…….my daughter’s ‘big dreams’ will be reached and that she embraces her inner power to lead, change and empower and thinks beyond the stereotypical roles limiting young girls in our society

…. All young men are given great #Heforshe role models and my son will grow up to be one of them

I’m still marching……

 

 

Involving parents and the wider school community #cultureofwellbeingDGInset

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Unless you tackle all 4 aspects simultaneously there will always be a ‘weak link’ which will prevent you from fully embedding your culture of wellbeing in your school.

Many schools have created a mental health and wellbeing advice list of what the parents should or should not be letting the children do. For example:  suggested use of screen time; the importance of sleep;  exercise; diet etc.

All very relevant. But what about the PARENTS?

• If parents spend much of their day with their faces buried in their ‘digital time’ how is this impacting on their ‘real time’ family relationships?
• If parents are constantly ‘working’ and have a poor work/life balance what subliminal message is this sending out about the value we attach to having a quality standard of Life?
• If parents have stopped reading, learning and trying new things what message is this sending out about the value of play, learning and having a growth mindset?
• If parents are prioritizing everything that is material and don’t ‘Give and volunteer’ time for others what is this saying about being aware of the needs of others?
• If parents have stopped relating and engaging in meaningful and sometimes difficult conversations with their children how can they expect the children, to have the confidence, to approach them when they need to talk or  develop and sustain mutually satisfying relationships?
• If parents are suffering from a Mental Health illness and are not talking about it or seeking help how is this reinforcing the stigma at home?
Many schools are throwing an enormous amount of energy into trying to provide a robust wellbeing program for our students. But we know in order for it to work we need to connect parents with the work we are doing in school; we need parents’ role-modelling from the top – pushing for an environment at home which nurtures positive Mental Wellbeing.

We need to encourage families to see Mental Health as the development of ‘Mental Wealth.’

Some suggestions on involving parents and raising their awareness could be:

– an online presence on your school website clearly articulating what is mental wellbeing; the need to destigmatise the conversation; why it is important for the whole school community and the signs for the parents to look out for.

– Suggested steps parents can take if they are concerned about their child

– sharing an annual letter or newsletter update at the start of the year on all the mental health and wellbeing strategies your school is planning inviting parents to get involved and ask their child about the projects.

– when year 6 and year 7 parents are invited to transition and open evenings ensure that along with the teaching and learning focus – your focus on wellbeing values is clearly profiled. Be specific about how you would like parents to support at home.

– Invite the students, teachers and parents to suggest their top 10 holistic values and then establish the top 10 shared values for the whole school community. Celebrate one of these values, each month, through cross-curricular and pastoral activities throughout the school. Become a values based school.

– Invite parents to volunteer and become Parent Wellbeing Ambassadors for the school. This role can be developed in a number of ways : as an online twitter handle or Facebook page where they post and share relevant articles and posts to the wider school community; they can offer to run small ‘parent tea and talk’ sessions in various centres at various times; to help run whole school wellbeing themed events ensuring it is correctly targeted at parents. The parent ambassadors will come up with many more suggestions.

– Arrange extra-curricular styled family intervention sessions. This helps develop positive communication between parent/child and the family and the school and is all about spending quality time together and building relationships. For example: it could be a series of family bake-off sessions where parent and child are invited to learn, together, how to bake something new. The emphasis is not so much on the baking but on the positive quality time spent together in school.

– running ‘resilient parenting’ workshops for different year groups. These should be largely subsidised by the school or the local council  encouraging parents to come on board with the language of what is mental wellbeing and the meaning behind ‘resilience’
– Running year group  #familyMH5aday campaigns where you give a list of activities for the family to complete embracing 5 lifestyle concepts  which promote positive mental health…. G-Give; R-Relate; E-Energise; A-Awareness; T-Try something new. The image below are a list of some of the activities they could do over a period of a few weeks.

Building trust and relationships and encouraging positive communication and shared values between the family base and the school is central to truly developing a ‘flourishing’ culture of wellbeing in a school.

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Teacher Mental Health by Professor Jonathan Glazzard

This blog is posted by cerasmusteach on behalf of Professor Jonathan Glazzard for #cultureofwellbeingDGInset

The Centre of Excellence for Mental Health in schools at Leeds Beckett University conducted a survey in December 2017 which was completed by more than 700 teachers. The data show that the majority of teachers have experienced a mental health need and that poor teacher mental health can have a detrimental affect on pupil mental health, pupil progress, the quality of teaching and the quality of the relationships that teachers establish with pupils and colleagues.
The research demonstrates that the causes of poor teacher mental health are multi-faceted and include factors such as: teacher workload; changing demands to the curriculum; changes to assessment approaches in school; excessive monitoring of teacher performance and excessive surveillance from other teachers.
Teachers who completed the survey stated that poor teacher mental health can detrimentally affect:
• their ability to plan lessons
• their creativity,
• the quality of their marking and feedback
• their behaviour management skills
• their ability to respond to the needs of learners, including those with mental health needs
• the progress of their pupils
• the quality of their explanations in class
This is the first research study that has specifically sought to establish the impact of poor teacher mental health on pupils. The latest research from the Education Support Partnership demonstrates that a significant proportion of teachers have experienced mental health issues including panic attacks, insomnia anxiety, depression and these factors have resulted in problems with teacher retention.
Literature consistently suggests that teacher workload is a contributory factor to poor teacher mental health. Whilst this argument has also evident in our research, teachers also emphasised in our study that lack of trust in teachers is a major contributory factor to poor teacher mental health. Teachers are willing to work hard, and they accept that when they enter the profession. However, our teacher participants identified that constant surveillance and panoptic styles of management also result in teachers being disempowered and that this can result in poor mental health for teachers.
Additionally, data from recent research by The Centre for LGBTQ+ Inclusion in Education at Leeds Beckett University demonstrate that teachers who identify as LGBT are at risk of developing mental health needs. Some findings from this research are presented below:
Have your experiences as an LGBTQ+ teacher impacted negatively on your own mental health?

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Have your experiences as an LGBTQ+ school leader impacted negatively on your mental health?

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The problem of mental health in schools cannot be tackled by solely focusing on pupils. School leaders also need to consider how their policies and practices which they promote may contribute to poor mental health for teachers.

Pupil Mental Health
The Government’s determination to address mental health issues in children and young people is commendable and should be applauded. The proposals in the Green Paper represent a political commitment to a very important issue.
The Prime Minister is determined to correct, in her words, the ‘historic injustice’ of unfair discrimination and poor treatment of people with mental health needs. Support for children and young people in schools and colleges is inconsistent and waiting times to access specialist services are too long. One in ten young people have a diagnosable mental health condition and children with mental health problems face unequal life chances. Half of problems are established before the age of 14.
Key data from the latest research by the Carnegie Centre of Excellence for Mental Health in Schools at Leeds Beckett University are shown below:
Almost all of the 603 school leaders surveyed called for more funding to tackle the growing problem of pupils suffering mental health issues, and for Ofsted to inspect mental health provision.
The national ‘Pupil Mental Health Crisis?’ survey, conducted throughout November 2017 by the Carnegie Centre of Excellence for Mental Health in Schools at Leeds Beckett in collaboration with educational consultants Hub4Leaders, asked school leaders 10 questions regarding pupils’ mental health.
The research shows that most of the teachers surveyed felt that the mental health provision in their school was insufficient. Additionally, 61 per cent of teachers did not feel adequately trained to support pupils’ mental health needs and 76 per cent of schools faced challenges in accessing external mental health provision.
The key findings of the survey were:
Mental health problems in schools are growing
More than half of the school leaders agreed that there is insufficient mental health provision for pupils in their school and 97 per cent said more funding must be made available – 83 per cent said that mental health issues amongst pupils have increased in the past five years.
The promised training hasn’t been delivered
Two thirds of the school leaders surveyed said that there is still no dedicated staff member in their school who is trained in or given responsibility for pupils’ mental health, despite the Government’s pledge to provide mental health first aid training to schools.
Social media has an impact and parents must do more to help
Eighty-six per cent of respondents agreed that social media has directly impacted pupils’ mental health, with 89 per cent adding that parents should restrict the amount of time their child spends on the internet.
The Department for Education (DfE) need to provide more guidance.
Ninety-three per cent of the school leaders want the DfE to release more guidance on how to tackle the growing issue of pupils’ mental health.

This blog has raised some pertinent issues, but it is now time to seek solutions to some of these problems. There is a need for action. The solutions need to come from those in the profession who are facing the day-to-day challenges.

Professor Jonathan Glazzard

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