Supporting children and families with their emotional health and wellbeing
Over the course of their education, children spend over 7,800 hours at school. With such a huge amount of time spent in the classroom, schools provide an ideal environment for promoting good emotional wellbeing and identifying early behaviour changes and signs of mental distress. The social and emotional skills, knowledge and behaviours that young people learn in the classroom can help them to build resilience and set the pattern for how they will manage their mental health throughout their lives. Emotional wellbeing is a clear indicator of academic achievement, success and satisfaction in later life. Evidence shows that mental health and wellbeing programmes in schools, can lead to significant improvements in children’s mental health, and social and emotional skills. Wellbeing provision in schools can also lead to reductions in classroom misbehaviour and bullying
Emotional Health and Mental Wellbeing at Christ Church Pellon
At Christ Church Pellon we have worked very hard in raising the profile of Mental Health and emotional wellbeing. Our Senior Mental Health Lead at school is Karen Coward, who supports children and their families and is the link between school and other agencies.
At Christ Church Pellon Primary School, we believe in promoting positive mental health and emotional wellbeing to ensure that the school is a community where everyone feels able to 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:
- being in good physical health, eating a balanced diet and getting regular exercise
- having time and the freedom to play, indoors and outdoors.
- being part of a family that gets along well most of the time.
- going to a school that looks after the wellbeing of all its pupils.
- taking part in local activities for young people.
Other factors are also important, including:
- feeling loved, trusted, understood, valued and safe.
- being interested in life and having opportunities to enjoy themselves.
- being hopeful and optimistic
- being able to learn and having opportunities to succeed.
- accepting who they are and recognising what they are good at
- having a sense of belonging in their family, school and community
- feeling they have some control over their own life.
- having the strength to cope when something is wrong (resilience) and the ability to solve problems.
What happens in 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. It is about helping children to understand and manage their thoughts, feelings and behaviour and build skills that help them to thrive, such as working in a team, persistence, and self-awareness.
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, come and talk to us. 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.
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.
Below you will find a number of resources and information that can support you and your family around emotional health and wellbeing. We hope you find some of the resources useful.
As always if you wish to discuss any issues/concerns that you may have further then please contact the pastoral office and we will be more than happy to offer some support regarding this.
Choose well for mental health – a guide for children and young people
A new guide to help children and young people in Barnsley, Calderdale, Kirklees and Wakefield has been launched by South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.
The choose well for mental health guide will enable people to find the right service for their mental health and wellbeing needs, and:
- Support people in looking after their mental health and wellbeing
- Inform people about how to access the right support when they need it
- Help people know what to do if they, or someone they know, experience a mental health crisis or emergency.
Parents, carers, families and friends can also use the guide to look out for children and young people close to them and help them get the right support and advice.
The guide has been co-created with children and young people with lived experience, and specialist healthcare teams who work with them, carers and their families.
The guide covers a wide range of support and advice, including:
- Things people can do to help look after their own mental health, emotions and wellbeing (self-care)
- Talking to someone
- Family help and support
- GP practices and referral to mental health services
- Child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) for help with specialist mental health concerns
- What to do in an emergency or crisis.
Leaflets for parents and carers
Parents and carers have asked for advice, support and signposting to emotional health and wellbeing resources for their children. In response to this, Calderdale Open Minds Partnership have produced a number of clear and accessible leaflets around some key issues to help parents support their children with getting back to their school routine and alleviate any feelings of frustration, worry and uncertainty.
These leaflets were created in partnership with mental health professionals, local parents/carers and commissioners, and can also be found in the parents/carers section on Open Minds Calderdale website:
Stressed worried or uncertain leaflet
Frustrated, cross or angry leaflet
Please find a guide on the current Emotional Health and Wellbeing Service on offer to children and young people in Calderdale. For further information about these services, please visit Calderdale’s emotional health and wellbeing website; Open Minds www.openmindscalderdale.org.uk which provides advice, information, support and signposting on local and national emotional health and wellbeing services that help children and young people who are going through a difficult time. Alternatively please make contact with school and we will be more than happy to try and support you and your child.
Open Minds has a section on “Exam help & Support” for any children who want additional support http://www.openmindscalderdale.org.uk/exam-help-calderdale/ The website will give you more information about how best to prepare for exams and how to deal with exam and results stress in an effective way.
Young Minds are leading the movement to make sure every young person gets the mental health support they need, when they need it, no matter what.
It takes courage to ask for help. But for many young people who do, the support they need just isn’t there.
Young Minds provide young people with tools to look after their mental health. They empower adults to be the best support they can be to the young people in their lives. And give young people the space and confidence to get their voices heard and change the world we live in.
Together, we can create a world where no young person feels alone with their mental health.
Young Minds have a free helpline available to parents/carers, where you’ll get through to a trained adviser who will listen and talk through your concerns in complete confidence. The adviser will help and support you and give you practical advice on what to do next.
If you feel that you need to talk to someone about your child then please call for free on 0808 802 5544 from 9:30am - 4pm, Mon – Fri. Or alternatively please visit the Young Minds website where they have a number of resources and support articles, there are also opportunities to seek support via email or web chat https://youngminds.org.uk/find-help/for-parents/parents-helpline/#parents-helpline
ChatHealth is brought to you by Healthy Futures Calderdale, and allows you to get in touch with a healthcare professional, at the touch of a button, for advice and support about physical health or emotional wellbeing.
Access the service: TEXT 07480 635297 (young people) or 07507 332157 (parents/carers) to start a conversation.
From 9.00am to 5.00pm Monday to Friday, we have experienced clinicians waiting to help. Messages outside this time frame will receive an automated response letting you know when you will receive a reply, and who to contact to get immediate help.
Dealing with anxiety - https://tutorful.co.uk/guides/the-expert-guide-to-help-your-child-with-anxiety
Every Mind Matters - https://coronavirusresources.phe.gov.uk/now-more-than-ever-every-mind-matters/
Young minds parents’ survival guide - https://youngminds.org.uk/find-help/for-parents/parents-survival-guide/
Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families - https://www.annafreud.org/parents/
Below are links for mindful and relaxation exercises that parents can do with children to help with managing anxiety