How to prepare a mental health policy for your school
In recent years an increasing number of children have shown signs of suffering from mental health issues, with three children in every classroom reported to have a diagnosable mental health disorder according to a Young Minds charity report. As well as affecting a student’s emotional wellbeing, their educational attainment can also be negatively impacted if they’re struggling to cope with their current mental state. So, as exam season commences, it’s fundamental that those within the industry take extra care and precautions to ensure students thrive during this defining time of their lives.
HighSpeed Training explains how to compile a thorough mental health policy document.
What is a Mental Health Policy Document?
A school mental health policy aims to promote positive mental wellbeing by setting a framework as to how the school will offer support for its students and staff, ensuring that a comfortable and inclusive atmosphere is adhered to during academic and extracurricular activities.
Why is a School Mental Health Policy Necessary?
During the exam season, the school environment faces the danger of becoming a catalyst for increasing mental health problems. As such, a school should have an effective mental health policy already implemented prior to the end of the academic year when important exams (such as GCSEs and A-Levels) take place.
The main aim of the policy is to demonstrate to both students and parents that the wellbeing of those associated with the institute, including students, staff and parents, is a top priority. Additionally, it should highlight the school’s ongoing commitment to understanding the severity of mental health issues within education so that teachers can encourage students to come forward and discuss any difficulties they might be facing. It’s important that the policy showcases the school’s investment in this subject, both for issues that arise at school and at home and not only during the high-pressure testing period, but all year round.
Key Components of a Mental Health Policy
To compile a policy that will provide maximum impact in a school environment, it’s vital to include the following sections:
· Policy Statement
· The Policy Scope
· The Policy Aims
· Key Staff Members
· Teaching about Mental Health
· Support at School and in the Local Community
· Identifying Needs and Warning Signs
· Managing Disclosures
· Whole School Approach
· Working with Parents
· Working with Other Agencies and Partners
· Supporting Peers
· Policy Review
Factors to Consider When Writing A School Mental Health Policy
It is essential that a school policy is thorough, insightful and accessible to all those in the community. The policy should therefore be:
Practical: To ensure maximum impact, the policy needs to be comprehensive and show the school understands student mental health problems. The key areas to include should be what procedures will be put in place to tackle mental health issues and address the importance of positive mental wellbeing, particularly during the time period where pressure ramps up.
Clear: The policy should be accessible for everyone and therefore written in clear, direct language and follow a logical structure.
Relevant: It is imperative that school-specific details are included in the policy. Where appropriate, aim to include relevant staff names, or bespoke policies and procedures so that the information feels tailored to the school.
Current: A mental health policy should reflect the school’s current state at all times, so if there are any changes to the school’s operations or workforce these will have to be updated accordingly.
Well-considered: To get the most from a mental health policy, set aside a sufficient amount of time to carefully consider what’s included. When implemented, the policy should cover all aspects of mental health within education in order to have a positive reflection on the school and the wider community.
High Speed Training, which provides safeguarding professional training courses for the education sector, has created a template to help schools create their own mental health policy, including all the essentials.
For more information and to contact a member of the team, simply visit www.highspeedtraining.co.uk.
Written by Ellie Collier, High Speed Training