We evaluate all our work with the goal of assessing improvements in people’s knowledge of mental health, their confidence in responding to issues in school, and the helpfulness of each session. We have found that school staff rate our sessions very highly and our outcomes demonstrate significant improvements in knowledge, skills and confidence following training sessions.
Benefits to our support
Gaining an increased knowledge and understanding of mental health
- “Recognising the role we play in helping and our own level of significance”
- “More awareness that pupils may have issues around mental health and things may not be just behavioural”
- “Consideration of mental health as a spectrum and considering where everyone fits on it and how it can change over time”
Ideas of how to support young people’s mental health
- “How to identify different factors and what is happening for a pupil with anxiety”
- “Understanding the role of school in promoting mental health, and how to help pupils develop resilience”
- “Understanding what works when helping young people”
- “The focus on resilience and that attendance at school is central to keeping well, and that I can do things as an ordinary teacher”
Learning new skills
- “Learning about thinking styles and how to help with these”
- “Learning new strategies that could help pupils with anxiety”
- “Understanding factors involved with low mood that I can talk about, and getting useful strategies and worksheets”
- “Exercises on talking about thoughts and finding alternative thoughts”
Improving general counselling and relationship-building skills
- “Learning how to relate to a pupil in a more confident way”
- “Learning what helps pupils, and what doesn't help”
- “Feeling more confident about how to discuss mood and feelings with pupils”
Working and learning together as a staff team
- “Being able to share and discuss experiences of working with pupils”
- “An opportunity to discuss the meaning and implications of mental health together within schools”
- “I found it very interesting and it is the first time that I have ever done any training in mental health and I've been teaching 10 years”
Examples of our work
A number of activities have taken place within School 1. From discussion with the school SENCO, priorities for the work centred on three aims:
- Improve staff understanding and response to children who were distressed or struggling with mental health issues
- Offer a psychological perspective and advice on the in-school support room and the processes that operated within it
- Offer advice on young people presenting with mental health issues in school.
To meet the first aim the LEHSS service lead joined a whole school INSET session and delivered a 90 minute session on ‘What is Children’s Mental Health?’ to all 120 staff, in four groups of 30, over the course of the day. This was followed up in January by a 90 minute session to a selection of 40 teachers on ‘Enhancing Communication Skills’, which aimed to present key skills and techniques for communicating with young people who may be stressed, upset or angry. Both sessions were well received and evaluated positively, and further training sessions on specific mental health issues (e.g. anxiety) are planned.
For the second aim, the LEHSS service lead spent time within the in-school support room observing how it operated and talking to staff and young people about how they found the support to work, in order to consider the support available from a psychological perspective. Following on from this, feedback and discussion took place with the SENCO, and the service lead then attended a planning meeting with senior staff around in-school support provision to share ideas on how the support could work more effectively to support young people’s mental health.
Thirdly, consultation sessions have taken place with the SENCO and Inclusion and Attendance Lead to discuss young people’s mental health and the kinds of support and interventions that pastoral staff could offer. These have mainly centred on anxiety management related to school and lesson attendance, and a number of strategies and evidence-based resources have been shared with school.
Work within School 2 has focused on the development of skills and competencies around children’s mental health for the pastoral support team. This team consists of the school SENCO and fifteen teaching assistants.
A range of teaching sessions have been delivered to the pastoral support team between October 2015 and February 2016, including mental health awareness, understanding anxiety and anxiety management, understanding depression and low mood, enhancing communication skills, and using motivational interviewing techniques. All sessions have been well-received and feedback has been very positive, highlighting the relevance of the training to their work and the usefulness of the techniques discussed.
Following on from this, the team have then had a number of ‘case discussion’ sessions in which a staff member discusses their concerns around a particular young person in school (anonymously), and the clinical psychologist and team members then discuss together how they could better understand the difficulties, and what strategies or interventions the school or member of staff could use to improve the situation. These sessions aim to consolidate their learning from the training sessions by providing opportunities to discuss how they could use the ideas from the training in real-life situations.
Individual training and consultation sessions have also been arranged with the school SENCO to discuss young people that she is working with on a one-to-one basis around their emotional well-being. Training delivered individually to the SENCO has focused on methods for assessing mental health needs and ‘formulating’ this information into an understanding that can be shared with the young person and other professionals and which can inform intervention plans.
Work within School 3 initially focused on knowledge and skills development for the pastoral team. This team consisted of the school SENCO, Pastoral Support Managers (class teachers) and teaching assistants. A number of training sessions were delivered to the team, such as anxiety management, understanding low mood and depression, and understanding self-harm. The service lead also delivered a session on mental health awareness to the full staff team during a full day INSET session.
During discussions with the SENCO, it was apparent that the school were very concerned about a particular female pupil who was presenting in school with a range of difficulties, such as extreme anxiety, verbal aggression towards staff, and conflict with peers. The young person and family were also known to social care, and had had several appointments in the past with local CAMHS but had not either not attended or not engaged with them and were reluctant to attend again.
The SENCO requested that regular consultation sessions took place between herself (and other key staff) and the service lead, to discuss their concerns in greater detail and to help them better understand the difficulties and formulate a response. After the first of these sessions it was also agreed that the service lead would deliver a training session to the pastoral team on attachment theory, in order to help them also understand the pupil’s difficulties better.
Following the training and subsequent consultation sessions, school hoped to re-engage the young person and family in work with CAMHS. The focus of consultation sessions therefore shifted to helping the school understand CAMHS processes, ways in which they could discuss a referral with the family, and ways in which they could assess the young person’s difficulties and present this information to CAMHS as part of a referral.
...our provision for supporting young people became much more effective, which had a positive impact upon behaviour and ultimately better outcomes both emotionally and academically. Staff commented that they felt more comfortable discussing issues both with individuals and within class settings. The profile of emotional health has definitely been raised amongst staff and pupils. (SENCO).