Being a school mental health lead is a hugely responsible role and it can be difficult to choose the right support. With DfE funding for training of mental health leads now available you might feel bombarded with different courses and training, which could put you off accessing any of it.

There is lots of good practice already going on in schools and there are some excellent training support materials out there, but it’s not always easy to choose which is the best for you.

DfE assured course for Senior Mental Health Leads

Worth-it’s Wellbeing Club is a quality-assured and DfE assured provider of training for Senior Mental Health Leads. We’re experts at leading change and developing whole school approaches to mental health. Membership of our Wellbeing Club provides unlimited access to our expert-led discovery workshops and practical resources; we share good practice and offer ongoing support to senior mental health leads, so you won’t feel on your own. Have a read of our recent article, wellbeing training - wellbeing club, to find out more.

The Wellbeing Club isn’t something we’ve just come up with, we’ve been developing it for years through our evidence-based practice and research to develop a programme that supports and provides practical training and resources that Senior Mental Health leads can use to improve wellbeing and prevent mental health problems impacting learning.

Wellbeing Club combines a number of positive and organisational psychology with practical know-how of working with schools for over a decade. These are

  • Evidence based mental health and wellbeing research for schools developed into simple frameworks that help SMHL's navigate the complexities of leading whole school mental health and wellbeing
  • Wellbeing strategies for early prevention that can be shared with colleagues
  • Accessible and practical tools and resources from positive education to develop into a mental health curriculum or embed into school culture
  • Coaching and ongoing support for at least a year to help leads truly embed their mental health action plan

This article takes a look at each of these areas in greater depth.

Evidence behind Worth-it’s Wellbeing Club?

At Worth-it, we developed our Whole School System for Positive Mental Health and Wellbeing by applying key policy frameworks and resources to our own research and practice.

Our approach emerged from findings in the Future in mind: Promoting, protecting and improving our children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing (Department of Health, 2015). We have since been delivering training for school mental health leads and school leaders drawing upon recommendations within the Promoting children and young people’s emotional health and wellbeing- 8 Principles (PHE,2015) and the What works in promoting social and emotional wellbeing and responding to mental health problems in schools (NCB, 2015), along with inclusion of policy and recommendations from the Transforming children and young people’s mental health provision: green paper (DfE, 2017).

8 principles to whole school mental health and wellbeing

These key resources and policy guidance have been integrated with applied positive psychology techniques and research from positive education specifically designed for the development of wellbeing for pupils and schools.

The use of positive education is associated with positive outcomes for pupils learning and achievement.

Successfully building wellbeing relies on an embedded approach across interconnected systems throughout a whole school. Positive relationships and social support are essential to development of a whole school ethos and culture for positive mental health and wellbeing. Positive relationships between whole-school are essential for a sustained whole school culture. Our work in these areas draws on published positive education research including Pupil wellbeing -Teacher wellbeing: Two sides of the same coin? (Roffey, 2012)

Children and young people’s voice is also essential for creating a whole school culture and ethos of wellbeing. Our approach combines applied practice of enabling and empowering young people to lead whole school wellbeing and support peers. It draws on findings from Setting-up and delivering peer support for mental health and wellbeing in schools, colleges, and youth organisations (Anna Freud, 2020)and the student voice in wellbeing: a case study of participatory action research in positive education (Halliday, et.al, 2019).

For more information about how we have taken the 8 principles and Wellbeing and integrated them into our Welbeing Framework for schools, watch our Youtube Video below.

Mental Health Prevention

Using a whole system approach to mental health puts accessible, preventative strategies in place to help build resilience and positive coping strategies, enabling young people to be supported earlier.

Young people will be able to access support from ‘front line’ staff who will use a shared language, feel confident to offer immediate support and be confident in their abilities to help rather than opt straight for a referral to specialist services.  

This whole system approach and confident workforce will become skilled in supporting young people to build resilience, increase emotional literacy and grow into more confident, capable young people: this will help increase self-reliance and prevent unnecessary referrals that result in long waiting times and ultimately rejection from a specialist service that is not required.

This focus on early prevention can address many low-level mental health issues that are impacting on teaching and learning and resulting in staff workload issues. This then has a positive impact on staff mental wellbeing and helps to sustain the overarching whole-school approach to mental health.

Coaching Senior Mental Health Leads

Senior mental health leads need more than training to truly make a difference to their schools. The coaching approach we use supports the leadership development and personal skills and capacities needed to lead change. The coaching process provides time for professional development, reflection and action planning that enable leads to put in place simple strategies for wellbeing that fit their schools unique needs and protect positive mental health and support targeted interventions to be more effective while aligning to the key government recommendations and guidance.

Our approach to coaching integrated into our Wellbeing Club programme increases SMHLs’ skills, confidence, and capacity to create a whole school culture of positive mental health and wellbeing, while feeling supported and being part of a community of other mental health leads.

Positive Education for Developing Wellbeing Strategies

Other robust positive education research we use applies the SEARCH Framework – Pathways to Wellbeing (Waters and Loton 2019). The SEARCH Framework acts as a consistent and evidence-based framework for implementing Positive Education within schools. SEARCH combines a raft of applied positive education research into a meta framework for applied practice, which supports schools to effectively develop positive mental health and wellbeing

SEARCH Pathways to Wellbeing

The SEARCH pathways are:

  • Strengths
  • Emotional Management and Learning
  • Attention  and Awareness
  • Relationships    
  • Coping and Resilience
  • Habits and Goals

The Wellbeing Club and resources draw upon this integrated evidence base to achieve the learning outcomes and develop the practical skills listed within the DfE (2021) Learning Outcomes for Senior Mental Health Leads in Schools or Colleges.

Simple Wellbeing Frameworks

The SEARCH pathways can be explicitly taught in specific wellbeing lessons, integrated more broadly in the curriculum or ‘caught’ through day-to-day experience of wellbeing within the school environment. SEARCH is also a helpful way to create a consistent approach that all staff can implement, encouraging staff buy-in, improving staff wellbeing, engaging parents, carers and families, and enabling all staff to promote resilience and support social and emotional learning.

The SEARCH Framework is the most effective way to plan and apply the teaching of strategies for wellbeing for all pupils in the school environment. These strategies have been proven to develop resilience and explicitly and implicitly provide ways to integrate mental health and wellbeing into the wider curriculum and school culture – achieving the senior lead training learning outcomes across leadership and management, staff development, ethos and environment, working with families and curriculum teaching.

We're Here to Help!

Find out more about our Wellbeing Club programme that combines and applies both these frameworks and supports mental health leads to implement them in their schools or colleges. To access DfE funding to cover the costs of joining the Wellbeing Club for a year, check out our FREE DfE Funding Information Session.

References

Future in mind: Promoting, protecting and improving our children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing. Department of Health(March 2015). Access here

Impact of Pupil Behaviour and Wellbeing on Educational Outcomes. Department for Education ( November 2012). Access here

Mental health and behaviour in schools, departmental advice for school staff Department for Education (March 2015). Access here

Promoting children and young people’s emotional health and wellbeing: a whole school and college approach Public Health England, (2015). Access here

What works in promoting social and emotional wellbeing and responding to mental health problems in schools – Guidance for schools. NCB(2015). Access here

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