Mental Health Lead
Mental Health Support at Turves Green Boys’ School
Over 50% of mental illnesses start before the age of 14, and 1 in 10 children and young people are coping with the challenges of a mental health disorder. Schools are on the frontline when it comes to supporting children and young people’s mental wellbeing. Staff working in schools are ideally placed to recognise and respond to early signs of mental health difficulties in children and young people.
This page outlines how we at Turves Green Boys’School can support your children and young people by identifying mental health problems and by measuring and monitoring the mental health and emotional wellbeing of our pupils.
Over the course of their education, children spend over 7,800 hours at school. With such a huge amount of time spent in the classroom, schools provide an ideal environment for promoting good emotional wellbeing and identifying early behaviour changes and signs of mental distress. The social and emotional skills, knowledge and behaviours that young people learn in the classroom can help them to build resilience and set the pattern for how they will manage their mental health throughout their lives.
Emotional wellbeing is a clear indicator of academic achievement, success and satisfaction in later life. Evidence shows that mental health and wellbeing programmes in schools, can lead to significant improvements in children’s mental health, and social and emotional skills. Wellbeing provision in schools can also lead to reductions in classroom misbehaviour and bullying.
How do we support our students?
At Turves Green Boys’ School we prioritise supporting our young people to build emotional resilience and help them to cope with and bounce back from adversity. If you feel that your son may need Mental Health Support please let us know and together we can support your son. Our Mental Health provision may include:
-One to one support with the Mental Health Lead and school councillor. Group sessions may also be offered subject to need.
-Mental Health screening for all students.
-Form time sessions at the beginning of every school day to discuss topical issues, safeguarding and mental health and wellbeing.
-A Safeguarding Committee of students who take an active role in promoting mental health dialogue amongst their peers.
-Assemblies- throughout the academic year.
- PSHE Curriculum . All students in Year 7-10 have an hour a week of PSHE which focuses heavily on mental Helath and wellbeing as well as practical strategies to help and identify any problems.
-Flexible Learning days- at least 2 during the year covering a range of topics relating to wellbeing and pshe.
-Support from the Pastoral Year Leader which may include one on one meetings or simply a ‘touch base’ at the end of the day to discuss any issues.
-Regular staff training on how to support our students and spot signs of mental health issues.
-A “whole school” approach towards student support. By a “whole school approach”, we mean involving every individual in the school community: pupils, parents and all staff and volunteers, from our Headteacher through to site staff and cooks. Crucially, it’s also about strategy and leadership; the systems and structures within the school. Everyone has the chance to understand and implement practical things which will contribute to changes in practice and benefit all the students in the school.
Bad moods or occasionally feeling sad are normal in young people. When a depressive state or mood lingers for a long time and limits a person’s ability to function normally it can be diagnosed as depression. How can you tell the difference?
Teenagers with depression have described themselves as feeling hopeless about everything, that nothing is worth the effort and that they’re powerless to change the difficult place they’re in. Depression can be frightening for your teenager, you, and your entire family and if you think your teenager has symptoms of depression, it’s important to take action so that they can get the help that they need.
Here are some of the common symptoms of depression:
- a feeling of being down in the dumps or really sad for no reason
- a lack of energy, feeling unable to do the simplest task
- an inability to enjoy the things that used to bring pleasure
- a lack of desire to be with friends or family members
- a lack of general motivation
- feelings of irritability, anger or anxiety
- an inability to concentrate a marked weight gain or loss and too little or too much interest in eating
- a significant change in sleep habits, such as trouble falling asleep or getting up
- feelings of guilt or worthlessness
- aches and pains even though nothing is physically wrong
- a lack of caring about what happens in the future
- frequent thoughts about death or suicide.
For an accurate diagnosis of major depression to be made, a detailed clinical evaluation must be done by a medical or mental health professional. Depression can be successfully treated in more than 80% of people who become depressed.
If you’re concerned that your child may have depression that is affecting their ability to live life, talk to them about it. Find out how they feel and if they are comfortable talking to a doctor about it. Please let the school know if you feel that your child may be showing signs of depression as this is something we can tackle together.
For more information
Action for Children: https://www.actionforchildren.org.uk/our-work-and-impact/children-and-families/good-mental-health/?gclid=Cj0KCQjwit_8BRCoARIsAIx3Rj6x0YCMZ8srIqM15o-nKTRrIUgZkbY9KveEreHpvzzI7wb0qTNgMMkaAj9BEALw_wcB&gclsrc=aw.ds
Anxiety is a feeling of worry or fear that is experienced as a combination of physical sensations, thoughts and feelings.
All children and young people feel worried sometimes, and this is a normal part of growing up. At certain points, such as on their first day of school or before an exam, young people may become more worried, but will soon be able to calm down and feel better.
Anxiety can become a problem when a young person feels stuck in it, or when it feels like an overwhelming, distressing or unmanageable experience. If this kind of worrying goes on for a long time, it can leave a young person feeling exhausted and isolated, and limit the things they feel able to do.
If your child is struggling with anxiety, there are things you can do to help them – including providing emotional support, working on practical strategies together and finding the right professional help if they need it.
What makes young people anxious?
A young person may feel anxious for a number of different reasons, depending on the individual. If your child is feeling unmanageable amounts of worry and fear, this is often a sign that something in their life isn’t right and they need support to work out what the problem is.
The following kinds of things can make some children and young people feel more anxious:
- experiencing lots of change in a short space of time, such as moving house or school
- having responsibilities that are beyond their age and development, for example caring for other people in their family
- being around someone who is very anxious, such as a parent
- struggling at school, including feeling overwhelmed by work, exams or peer groups
- experiencing family stress around things like housing, money and debt
- going through distressing or traumatic experiences in which they do not feel safe, such as being bullied or witnessing or experiencing abuse
Symptoms of anxiety
Anxiety tends to affect a young person’s body, thoughts and feelings. They may also behave differently, including turning to certain coping behaviours to try to avoid or manage their anxiety.
- panic attacks, which can include having a racing heart, breathing very quickly, sweating or shaking
- shallow or quick breathing, or feeling unable to breathe
- feeling sick
- dry mouth
- sweating more than usual
- tense muscles
- wobbly legs
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), diarrhoea or needing to pee more than usual
- getting very hot
Thoughts and feelings:
- preoccupied by upsetting, scary or negative thoughts
- nervous, on edge, panicky or frightened
- overwhelmed or out of control
- full of dread or an impending sense of doom
- alert to noises, smells or sights
- worrying about being unable to cope with daily things like school, friendships and being in groups or social situations
- worrying so much that it is difficult to concentrate and/or sleep
- withdrawing or isolating themselves – including not wanting to go to school, be in social or group situations, be away from parents or try new things
- repeating certain behaviours, actions or rituals (often called ‘obsessive compulsive behaviours’)
- eating more or less than usual
How to help your child in an anxious moment
When your child is in the middle of a very anxious moment, they may feel frightened, agitated or worried about having a panic attack. The important thing to do in the moment is to help them calm down and feel safe.
These strategies can help:
- Breathe slowly and deeply together. You can count slowly to five as you breathe in, and then five as you breathe out. If this is too much, try starting with shorter counts. If it works for them, gradually encourage your child to breathe out for one or two counts longer than they breathe in, as this can help their body relax.
- Sit with them and offer calm physical reassurance. Feeling you nearby, or holding your hand or having a cuddle if it’s possible, can be soothing.
- Reassure them that the anxiety will pass and that they will be okay. It can be helpful to describe it as a wave that they can ride or surf until it peaks, breaks and gets smaller.
- Ask them to think of a safe and relaxing place or person in their mind. If you haven’t tried this before, agree with them when they’re feeling calm what this place or person is. It could be their bedroom, a grandparent’s house, a favourite place in nature or somewhere they’ve been on holiday. Sometimes holding a memento of a relaxing place, like a seashell or pebble, can help.
- Try using all five senses together. Connecting with what they can see, touch, hear, smell and taste can bring them closer to the present moment and reduce the intensity of their anxiety. You might think together about five things they can see, four things they can touch, three things they can hear, two things they can smell and one thing they can taste.
- Encourage them to do something that helps them to feel calmer. This could be running, walking, listening to music, painting, drawing or colouring-in, writing in a journal, watching a favourite film or reading a favourite book.
- Remember that everyone is different, and that over time you and your child can work together to find the things that work best for them in these moments.
How to help your child manage their anxiety
Outside of moments when your child is feeling particularly anxious or panicky, there are things you can do over time to help them manage their anxiety and feel better.
A lot of these strategies are about helping your child to understand themselves and find out what works for them. The more confident they feel about helping themselves when things are hard, the more they will believe in their ability to cope – helping to reduce feelings of panic.
In a calmer moment, talk with your child about their anxiety. Ask them what it feels like in their mind and body, and what things make them feel that way. It can be tempting to dismiss their worries because you want to reassure them, but it’s important to empathise with their experience and validate their feelings. You can find our tips on starting a conversation with your child here.
Think together about whether there’s anything in particular that’s making them feel anxious. This could include a friendship, a relationship with a family member, their schoolwork or a combination of things. Are there changes that could be made at home or school that would make things easier? If your child is worrying about things that are outside of their control, it might help to name together who is responsible for managing the problem – for example, you might say, “worrying about money is the parents’ job”.
I’ve found it helpful when talking about anxiety to think about achievable goals for overcoming worries that stop them from doing things, and then to create stages like a ladder to get to them
Finding Professional Help
It’s a good idea to seek professional support if self-help strategies are not making the situation better and anxiety is affecting your child’s life, for example if they are feeling persistently anxious, often having distressing thoughts, or avoiding things like going outside or speaking to others.
GP and Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS)
Speaking to your GP is usually the first step to accessing mental health services. You can speak to your GP with or without your child. Together you can discuss whether referral to CAMHS, an assessment by a mental health specialist or referral for another kind of support is needed.
The type of support or treatment offered will depend on your child’s age and the kind of anxiety they are experiencing. Talking therapies such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) can help your child to understand the thoughts and feelings behind their anxiety and find practical strategies to help them cope.
Medication may be offered if your child’s anxiety is very difficult to manage or talking therapy has not helped. Medication should be suggested alongside talking therapies or another psychological treatment, and by a doctor who specialises in children’s mental health.
For more information and help
A easy to understand explanation for your teen to understand what is happening to their body when they feel anxious as well as ways to relax. https://www.heysigmund.com/anxiety-in-teens/
As a parent, you might suspect your child is self-harming. If you are worried, watch out for these signs:
- Unexplained cuts, burns or bruises
- Keeping themselves covered; avoiding swimming or changing clothes around others
- Being withdrawn or isolated from friends and family
- Low mood, lack of interest in life or depression
- Blaming themselves for problems or expressing feelings of failure, uselessness, hopelessness or anger
For more information on ways you can help your child if you suspect they are self-harming. Download our guide including lots of information for how and where to get your child the help that they need.
For general external support
What is CAMHS?
CAMHS stands for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services. CAMHS is the name for the NHS services that assess and treat young people with emotional, behavioural or mental health difficulties.
There are local NHS CAMHS services around the UK, with teams made up of nurses, therapists, pyschologists, child and adolescent psychiatrists (medical doctors specialising in mental health), support workers and social workers, as well as other professionals.
To find your nearest Mental Health Support go to https://www.actionforchildren.org.uk/how-we-can-help/our-local-services/find-our-services-near-you/?location=b31
Confidential help and support
The Samaritans provides emotional support 24 hours a day.
Telephone: 08457 90 90 90
The British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy
Telephone: 01455 883300
UK Council for Psychotherapy
Telephone: 020 7014 9955
General health information
NHS 111 provides information 24 hours a day.
The Mental Health Foundation website has a useful A-Z of key mental health topics: https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/a-to-z
Young Minds provide useful information for young people and their parents about mental health, seeking treatment and the mental health system: https:// youngminds.org.uk/
Childline have lots of advice about managing different feelings as well as their phoneline which is open 24 hours a day https://www.childline.org.uk/info-advice/ your-feelings/
Kooth provide counselling support both face to face and online https://kooth. com/
Mind have a whole range of information and support information for children and parents on their website: https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/