Mental Health & Emotional Wellbeing
At Alexandra 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.
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 well being. 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 freedom to play indoors and outdoors
- Being part of a family that gets on most of the time
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.
We teach the child to name and understand their feelings using the zones of regulation and develop effective tools to self regulate.
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 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.
How can we help?
If you have concerns about your child please contact Polly Jones (mental health lead for Alexandra Primary School). Polly Jones and Melanie Meek are trained Mental health first aiders.
We are able to offer additional support for children through our ELSA provision (Emotional literacy support assistant).
The school is also part of a mental health cluster. Referrals can be made to the Mental Health support team with parental consent to support children individually or in small groups with anxiety, developing resilience, friendships & low mood. The team also offers support for parents dealing with anxiety and challenging behaviour in their children.
We can also support parents with a referral to CAMHS (Childrens and Adolescent Mental Health Services).
24/7 Mental health crisis line - The crisis line is staffed by trained mental health advisors and is a 24 hour support line 0800 028 8000
Mental Health and Parenting - Help and advice for parents and families living with mental health problems.