Our approach to working with Senior Mental Health Leads (SMHLs) supports them to build on the effective practice they already have in place. Our priority is to help SMHLs strengthen and improve their school or college mental health provision, develop and embed action plans and address any gaps. These gaps can be addressed by accessing and using our resources and toolkits provided in the training and through ongoing 12-month access to Wellbeing Club.

Key Areas for Your School Mental Health and Wellbeing Improvement Plan

Our school system model has been developed from the 8 principles to whole-school mental health and demonstrates to schools how the areas for developing school mental health interplay and connect with each other. This framework provides a helpful way of developing any school mental health and wellbeing improvement plans.

Using a model like this helps schools see the bigger picture and allows SMHLs to focus on one element or several elements of their whole school approach to mental health depending on the needs of their school.

There is no wrong place to start. The most important thing is that a start is made, and that the aspiration to continually improve and develop school mental health remains on any schools strategic action plans or improvement plans.

Mental health and wellbeing improvement plans don't need to be difficult or complicated, although it may feel that way. That is why we have create an ultimate guide to school mental health and wellbeing to explain this in more detail.

In most cases, you can adapt school action or improvement plans you already use to include opportunities to develop wellbeing rather than having a separate plan just for mental health and wellbeing. You don't need to reinvent the wheel, integrating school models for mental health to work already establish makes it much more likely to be effective and sustainable in your school.

Eight Principles for Whole School Mental Health and Wellbeing

One of the most popular frameworks for developing and improving school mental health is explored below. The eight principles provide a simple way of focusing your efforts to develop mental health in strategic areas. We have used this model for several years and developed it into our whole school system framework which represents the dynamic nature of developing school mental health.

This diagram below illustrates the eight principles and is taken from the Public Health England Document 'Promoting children and young people’s emotional health and wellbeing - a whole school and college approach'. The principles are also listed below and you can find the whole document here.

  1. Leadership and Management
  2. Student Voice
  3. Staff Development Health and Wellbeing
  4. Identifying Need and Monitoring Impact
  5. Working with Parents, Families and Carers
  6. Ethos and Environment
  7. Curriculum, Teaching and Learning
  8. Providing Targeted Support and Appropriate Referrals

Diagram of the 8 priciples to emotional wellbeing in schools

Applying the Eight Principles to Support Your School

All our Wellbeing Club courses and toolkits map to our consistent practical and evidence-based frameworks. This way mental health and wellbeing strategies based on the learning outcomes can be applied at any ‘layer’ or ‘area’ within a school environment. These tools can be incorporated into personal online action planning progress logs to seek feedback from our supportive experts and gain personalised support during the time they are members.

Find out more below about the specific learning opportunities, workshops, courses, and toolkits included in Wellbeing Club and how these meet the 8 principles for whole school mental health and the SMHL learning outcomes.

Leadership and Management

  • Framework overview and identifying unique starting points – each school is different; our review workshop and mapping tool helps schools identify what they are doing well and how to address any gaps in provision.
  • Introductory Training – we offer role clarity and development and how SMHL role fits into wider mental health system making use of NHS and community partnerships, and organisational structures, polices and processes that support the embedding of mental health and wellbeing.
  • The need for collecting and assessing data – Wellbeing Club supports SMHLs to identify the data they can utilise for the development and evaluation of their whole school approach, including how to utilise data readily available such as attendance, attainment, attitudes to learning, positive peer relationships and improved behaviour.

Identifying Need

  • How to recognise pupils in need of support earlier – increase your awareness of a range of mental health related issues and how these impact on learning and behaviour. Sharing these with colleagues and pupils to create awareness and understanding. 

Targeted Mental Health Support

Ethos and Environment

  • Shared language and understanding – sharing course learning with practical tools that develop a shared language of positive mental health.
  • Culture, connection, values and belonging – how to cultivate a culture that is built on core values that nurture inclusion, belonging and connection.
  • Policy, Process and Place – how to develop own policies and processes that fit school needs and an openness to understanding and supporting mental health in a range of embedded ways.
  • Stakeholder and agency support – learn to work effectively with key stakeholders to support the development of sustainable mental health and wellbeing.

Student Voice

  • Using student voice workshop resources – effectively empower pupils and students to have a voice in embedding their whole school or college approach.
  • How to effectively give pupils a voice – discover a range of communication preferences such as surveys, focus groups, drawing or specific projects.

Families, Parents and Carers

  • Parents’ resources – that engage and involve families in the development of pupil wellbeing.
  • Cultivating positive relationships – learn about emotional wellbeing, resilience, safety and belonging through nurturing positive family relationships. 
  • Sharing strategies – enabling parents and carers to access support for children in distress making this consistent as a school wide approach.

Wellbeing Curriculum Teaching and Learning

  • Curriculum Teaching Wellbeing Resources – develop cross-curricular approaches to promoting positive mental health and wellbeing based on the SEARCH framework for positive education that develop skills for resilience, social support, and emotional management.

Staff Development

  • Train-the-Trainer – curriculum resources that share classroom and pastoral exercises that support the development of pupil resilience, wellbeing, and positive mental health
  • Staff development CPD - Train-the-trainer activities to share with staff that help early identification of mental health needs and help pupils and students access mental health support earlier.
  • Staff wellbeing – support staff wellbeing through range of practical activity guides to support staff wellbeing using positive psychology and coaching approaches.
  • Positive peer relationships amongst colleagues – learn about evidence-based strategies that create cultures of trust and autonomy and contribute to a culture of wellbeing.
  • Developing staff wellbeing champions – how to share staff strategies for wellbeing, signpost and promote awareness and address issues that contribute to stress and resistance, such as workload.

Share and Learn with Peer Mental Health Leads

Wellbeing Club membership provides a wealth of opportunities to share and learn with other professionals.

  • Ongoing support provides opportunity to continue to engage with peers through practical and topic specific online workshops based on the 8 principles and termly progress review hotline drop-in coaching sessions.
  • Our Mental Health Lead Facebook community provided opportunity for members to ask questions share ideas and resources
  • We utilise regular member newsletters and the academy dashboard share ideas and examples of effective practice from our school community.

Ongoing Feedback and Encouragement 

SMHLs, who are Wellbeing Club members, will complete progress logs, providing them a framework for personalised online trainer feedback and the opportunity to review individual progress, action plans, and address challenges. Leads can complete up to 3 logs (one per term) during the 12 months gaining ongoing feedback and the ability to track their own progress for 12 months.

In our Wellbeing Club we apply these learning outcomes through courses and resources that cover each of the outcome areas in bitesize chunks. This helps prevent the development of school mental health becoming overwhelming for the lead, while at the same time enabling the lead to keep up the momentum needed to embed sustained change. For example our SMHL Wellbeing Pathway course supports you to plan and lead your whole school approach to wellbeing.

Our training and resources are delivered through our custom-built online membership academy platform Wellbeing Club which provides:

  • In-depth course to develop your whole school approach to mental health and curriculum for wellbeing
  • On-demand library of mini-courses and workshops
  • Resource toolkits and train-the-trainer activities to take back and use in school settings
  • Termly live hotline drop-in support calls and CPD opportunities
  • Examples of effective practice in other school settings
  • Member networking and community
  • Progress tracking and expert feedback
  • Ongoing consultancy and help to personalise the training to your school needs

Enrol Now

Find out even more on our SMHL Wellbeing Pathway course inside our Wellbeing Club and read how the Wellbeing Club is helping other schools to develop their whole school approach to wellbeing. Find out how you can access funding to join our DfE Assured Programme for Mental Health Leads, by accessing our FREE Funding Webinar.

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