At Oak View Primary and Nursery 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.
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.
What happens in school?
In school, we teach children about what it means to have good mental health and wellbeing throughout our curriculum.
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.
We offer different levels of support:
Universal Support – To meet the needs of all our pupils through our overall ethos and our curriculum. For instance, developing resilience for all and creating a strong community for everyone to feel like they belong.
Additional support – For those who may have short term needs and those who may have been made vulnerable by life experiences such as bereavement and difficult circumstances outside of school.
Targeted support – For pupils who need more differentiated support and resources or specific targeted interventions such as Play Therapy.
Referrals to outside agencies, for example Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS).
Examples of our support
- Behavioural Interventions
- Transition to secondary school programs
- Lunchtime club for identified pupils
- PSHE lessons
- Mindfulness and yoga workshops for all pupils
- Participating in Children’s Mental Health Week
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 stress 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
There are some simple ways to help yourself manage your own well-being day to day in the form of ‘5 steps to mental wellbeing’.
This important message gives us permission to take time for ourselves and be in the moment and focusses on the positives. This is similar to mindfulness. If you can try to follow these 5 ways throughout your daily life, you will find it much easier to cope with stress.
What 5 things can you do today to connect, give to others, take notice, keep learning and be active,
Children can also follow the 5 ways to well-being. This will give them long lasting skills to grow with them through adulthood to hopefully reduce the risk of them developing mental health issues.
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.
Mental health Illness
Sometimes, people are born with a mental health illness which affects them throughout their lives. They might have different ways of being supported and coping with their mental health illness; they might take a medicine or they might have a doctor or counsellor that they talk to, to help them cope and regain a sense of wellbeing.
Mental illness is often invisible, but that doesn’t mean it should be hidden. Statistics tell us that most people suffer from a mental health concern at some point in their lives and that one in ten young people struggle with their mental health. People with any illnesses, whether they affect our mental or physical health, deserve support, help and understanding.
Breaking the stigma
Understanding and responding to our mental health and wellbeing needs is something we believe in at Oak View Primary and Nursery School. We aim to take away the stigma and negativity and help our pupils and families to talk openly.
Some useful links:
|Talking about anxiety – tips for parents:|
|The expert Parent’s Guide to Childhood Anxiety||Family Lives Help Line|