January 18, 2022 4:00 PM

Free Monthly Workshop

Understanding barriers to supporting staff wellbeing

Register Now


We know that developing a whole school approach to mental health can feel like a big, overwhelming, and potentially expensive task. That is why we created our whole school system. A way to share with school leaders and mental health leads an effective, step by step way of developing whole school mental health that will save time, energy, and stress.

Our whole school system for positive mental health offers a step by step process, enabling you to audit, plan and take action in developing your whole school approach.  Our system framework helps you figure out your unique starting point and what is already working well in your school. These are your foundations for building your own whole school approach to mental health that supports your pupils, staff and community. Learn how to apply our approach by joining Wellbeing Club our DfE assured programme for Senior Mental Health Leads.

Introducing Our Whole School System

Our whole school approach to positive mental health and wellbeing, combines positive and organisational psychology theory with mental health in schools guidelines and recommendations. Our system model represents the dynamic way mental health is developed in schools and colleges. We use it to provide a framework for planning, developing and embedding school wellbeing.

Whole School System for Positive Mental Health & Wellbeing

Share this graphic

Culture and Ethos Embedded Through Policy, Process and Place

  • The school environment promotes and supports the development of positive mental health and wellbeing
  • The school's approach to mental health and wellbeing is shared, understood and visible in our school
  • The school's policies and procedures support the development of positive mental health and wellbeing for all

Leadership and Management

  • School leaders champion and support school wide positive mental health and wellbeing.
  • Mental health and wellbeing are an integral part and considered as part of school strategy and planning.

Staff Development and Training

  • Staff participate in training in how to look after their own wellbeing and develop wellbeing as a team.
  • Staff are provided trained to support to pupils with poor mental health and in ways that develop wellbeing.

Staff Wellbeing Initiatives

  • The positive relationships underpin all our staff wellbeing initiatives.
  • Staff lead initiatives that they identify as important for their wellbeing

Universal Taught Wellbeing Curriculum

Day-to-Day Experience of Wellbeing

  • An ethos of wellbeing creates a positive environment for learning.
  • Wellbeing is experienced through our day-to-day interactions at school.

Targeted Prevention Programmes

Parents and Carers

Agencies and Key Stakeholders

  • Work with external agencies are an integral part of support for pupil and staff wellbeing.
  • Agencies worked with are reviewed to ensure quality and suitability.

Pathway to Specialist Provision

  • A clear pathway to support for targeted pupils.
  • Staff and pupils are aware of the referral pathway and to access this pathway.

Free Workshop

Introduction to Leading Whole School Mental Health & Wellbeing

Download Now

Benefits of the Whole School Approach

Learning Benefits of Whole School Approach to Mental Health

Academic Learning

  • Motivation
  • Commitment
  • Engagement in learning and school

Successful Learning behaviour

  • Social emotional skills
  • Attitude to learning
  • Cognitive skills development

Improved Behaviour

  • Reduced disruption
  • Less incidents, fighting and bullying
  • Reduced exclusions and absence

Wellbeing Benefits of a Whole School Approach to Mental Health

Staff Wellbeing

  • Reduced stress and sickness absence
  • Improved staff retention
  • Improved teaching ability and performance

Pupil Wellbeing

  • Emotional wellbeing
  • Happiness and contentment
  • Connection and positive relationships

Mental Health Support

  • Prevention of mental health problems
  • Earlier access to support

Whole School Vs Piecemeal

You may still be in the research phase about what the whole school approach to mental health is. If this is the case, sometimes it can be beneficial to compare the whole school approach to the alternative. Some call the alternative 'reactive', but we think that 'piecemeal' captures the essence of a non-whole school approach.

To assist you, we've developed a short comparison:

Whole school approach

  • Joined up strategic approach, wellbeing underpins all aspects of school life
  • Wellbeing is core business at your school
  • Everyone knows their role in developing school wellbeing
  • Wellbeing strategies are embedded into teaching and learning.
  • Strategies for wellbeing development are part of effective teaching practice
  • Proactive and preventative, enabling everyone to build strategies for wellbeing
  • Is visible, can be seen in displays, the behaviour, and the way the school environment feels
  • Long term approach, which becomes embedded over time
  • Staff wellbeing is fundamental to success

Piecemeal approach

  • Contained to one workshop for children or training staff
  • Seen as a bolt on, luxury, fad or tick boxy
  • Seen as the role of certain individuals, e.g. the mental health lead or pastoral support
  • Taught in fragmented lessons or one-off workshops
  • Seen as only one- or two-people’s responsibility who are ‘trained’ in that topic
  • Reactive, only supporting those that have been identified to have a need or problem
  • Stigmatised and misunderstood, for example hiding posters behind toilet doors.
  • Quick fix, brief or one-off interventions
  • Staff not valued as integral to supporting pupil mental health

Free Course

Whole School Wellbeing Example- Free Mini Course

Download Now

Model Development Rationale

It is widely recognised within education and mental health sectors that children and young people’s mental health and levels of wellbeing have a huge impact on their ability to learn and achieve.

Research in the UK informs us that 1 in 8 children and young people have a diagnosable mental health problem. Almost every day we hear alarming reports about children and young people’s mental health, with recent figures suggesting almost 1 in 6 children and young people show some evidence of mental ill-health. In recent years there has been an increased focus on supporting children and young people to manage mental health problems and improve wellbeing at school. This has been amplified by the Covid19 pandemic.

In recognition of this, the government has led changes both to the school curriculum and Ofsted frameworks to include a greater focus on mental health. There is now a greater requirement on schools to develop a whole school approach to positive mental health and wellbeing.

The Department for Education is championing whole school approaches to mental health as best practice. Ofsted also recognise the positive impacts that wellbeing and good mental health can have on achievement and pupil outcomes. Many schools are now including positive mental health and wellbeing as key elements of school improvement plans.

Why is it important that schools develop mental health for children and young people?

There is increasing recognition from both the health and education sectors of the importance of teaching children and young people the social and emotional resources they need for a flourishing life now and in future. Evidence tells us the most effective way of doing this is during their time at school.

What is a whole-school approach to mental health and wellbeing?

One of the most effective ways to support children to improve mental wellbeing and prevent mental health problems is through a whole school approach to mental health and wellbeing.

A whole school approach involves all members of the school community working together to adopt approaches that improve wellbeing and mental health. Supporting children and staff to flourish and succeed. Whole school approaches to wellbeing are sustainable and positively impact the whole school community and many aspects of school life, such as behaviour, relationships, attendance and attainment.

Worth-it’s Whole School System for Positive Mental Health

Worth-it specialise in early prevention and intervention of mental health problems for children and young people. We started out our work through providing direct targeted interventions for young people struggling with poor mental health. We provided community based targeted emotional wellbeing programmes funded by the NHS. However, we found that this work only did so much to support young people. We started training teachers, staff and parents to support young people’s mental health and wellbeing using the strategies we had developed through working directly with young people.

We then realised through research and practice that the most effective way to develop children and young people’s mental health was to work with whole school communities supporting them develop their own tailored whole school approaches, underpinned by our effective and evidence based approach to early prevention. We piloted our approach through working again with the NHS and 20 schools across Leicestershire. This provided key insights which led to the development of our system framework.

How we developed our Whole School System for Positive Mental Health

At Worth-it we have been working with 100’s of schools for 10 years supporting them to develop strategies for positive mental health and wellbeing. We have combined our know-how and practical experience with the extensive evidence base underpinning our whole school positive mental health support. We have developed our own dynamic ‘system’ for developing Positive Mental Health in Schools.

We have chosen to refer to our whole school approach to mental health as a system. A systems approach considers the school as a complex and boundaried unit. Within the school system, mental health can be developed as whole through developing the interactions and interconnections between each element of the system. For example, improving staff mental health has a positive impact on pupil mental health. While developing pupil mental health, improves behaviour which in turn reduces staff stress. This is a dynamic process which, once the necessary conditions have been put in place, becomes self-sustaining, highly efficient and low cost to sustain over time.

Our aim is to support schools to cultivate positive mental health wellbeing at key points in their system. Our systems framework offers suggestions about where those key and unique starting points may be for a school. Providing a map or route to effectively plan a strategic whole school approach to mental health. Our school system model can be used with schools, supporting them to reflect on the areas that already work well, identify any gaps in their provision, and plan a school mental health strategy. We support schools through this process with our .

Our system for positive mental health recognises the complexities of each aspect or element involved in developing mental health within a school. In a system there are interconnections between each element of the system. It’s important to identify how they interact with each other and as a whole.

Our school system has also been developed to allow schools to focus on one element or several elements of their whole school approach. There is no wrong place to start. Our system recognises that all schools are already on their journey of whole school metal health. We work with schools to build on the effective practice they already have in place, strengthening these areas and addressing any gaps in provision, with our pick and mix menu of mental health resources, services and support for schools.

Our whole school system for positive mental health enables schools to create capacity through up-skilling staff to develop their own and children’s mental health. We provide training, tools and resources for schools to feel confident and able to effectively support children develop positive mental health. We support schools through the process of developing whole school mental health.