Support from people at school

Some young people seek support from someone they trust at school like a head teacher, guidance teacher or the school nurse. 

  • How likely are the young people work with to seek mental health support from someone at their school?
  • If they have spoken to someone at their school, what has been their experience of that?
  • What improvements do you think could be made?
  • Is there anyone else they might speak to at their school?

Why the contribution is important

It is important for us to learn about your experiences and ideas for improvements so we can make it easier for young people to get mental health support from people at their school.

by ScotParlCEU on November 06, 2018 at 08:20PM

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  • Posted by AnneMac November 16, 2018 at 09:19

    Very often, all the above named professionals in schools are very stretched in terms of their other responsibilities. I would like to see a dedicated well-being team in each high school. This could consist of a counsellor, groupworker, welfare officer, youth worker, school nurse etc. This could operate as an early intervention response team and, as such, may take the pressure off existing and overstretched mental health services like CAMHS. Or at least provide young people with a listening ear while they’re waiting for a CAMHS appointment.
  • Posted by missl November 19, 2018 at 20:34

    Schools also have Home School Link Workers and Educational Psychologists who work closely with young people.
  • Posted by helpingprofessions December 05, 2018 at 15:31

    Educational Psychologists work with school staff to enable them to feel confident to have conversations with and support young people experiencing an episode of reduced mental well-being, as well as supporting staff to understand where an issue is complex and may benefit from an onward referral. They also meet with individual young people where appropriate. In addition they support with whole school initiatives and training and have also contributed to research in this area. As with the above comment, inclusion of the wider school supports from education services would be beneficial in the summary diagram. At times, access to CAMHS is not necessary with the right day to day supports.
  • Posted by AnneMac December 05, 2018 at 17:24

    The contribution of Educational Psychologists is invaluable, I totally agree, but not every school has a full time Ed Psych at their disposal. In my school, she visits twice a week absolute maximum, but also has other schools and commitments, so depending on her workload, may only be in school a couple of times a month. She’s wonderful and I work closely with her, but in a school of over 1,000 students, it’s not enough and as previously, pupil support staff and subject teachers are so stretched with their own teaching commitments, they have little time and energy to adequately support a young person who’s struggling with their mental wellbeing, as much as they want to.

    I’m really advocating having an early intervention team which could be pro-active when things start to get a little shaky for a young person. This could potentially negate the need for the greater intervention required when the issue is more acute. I also think it’s important to engage with families, so that everyone is working together to support a young person and this needs a strategic and joined up approach.

    missl: Not every school has a home/school link worker. In fact, very few do.
  • Posted by myrah December 13, 2018 at 12:48

    The approaches of Local Authorities varies greatly and even within LA's, schools can vary so much in the attention paid to promoting emotional wellbeing and supporting young people. There are schools around the country doing sterling work in the field of young people's mental health but these are very much the exception and rely on the Head Teacher/key staff being pro-active and building a supportive ethos. The attainment gap and mental health are inextricably linked.
    Understanding mental health and knowing how to promote it should be a requirement of all teacher training. Quality, up to date resources to promote emotional literacy etc are required. Early intervention is key - know kids well - recognise when they are anxious etc - have dedicated staff - a counsellor/mental health nurse etc in place to respond early and prevent problems becoming entrenched and then requiring CAMHS intervention.
  • Posted by nickilawrence December 13, 2018 at 13:39

    A young person’s environment, home-life, community, other relationships, and early experiences all have an impact on their mental health and wellbeing. Interventions and supports shouldn’t be based around a ‘within the child’ model and seek to fix problems, rather they should look more holistically at what might be impacting on their mental health and wellbeing and indeed what strengths and protective factors that young person has in their life.

    Adopting trauma-informed, aware and sensitive approaches, in line with the NHS Education Scotland Transforming Psychological Trauma Framework within an entire educational establishment can help improve the mental health and wellbeing of all pupils but will especially help those young people who have experienced or are experiencing early trauma in their homes and their communities. Relational and restorative approaches should be considered which place relationships at the heart of all interactions and work with children and young people.

    Support for teachers is also essential in order to equip them with the tools they need to care for their pupils. Barnardo's recently called for more backing for teachers to support children and young people who have experienced trauma. This was based on a YouGov survey of teachers across Scotland. 73% of respondents said more needed to be done to ensure schools understand how trauma and childhood adversity can impact on a child’s mental health and wellbeing. Several other pieces of research have also highlighted the need for more support for teachers including the SAMH ‘Going to be’ survey on school staff training in mental health and Mental Health Foundation Scotland research published in December.
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