Children’s Mental Health and Wellbeing
At Beccles Primary Academy, we work hard to implement best practice in mental health provision. Our aim is to develop and embed a culture where mental health and wellbeing sits at the heart of school life.
This is evident in our commitment and drive to achieve the Wellbeing Award for Schools (assessment is due in June 2022). At the start of our journey, we evaluated our provision to identify our strengths and areas for improvement. This included gathering feedback from key stakeholders (pupils, parents, staff) to ensure a whole-school approach.
Additionally, we work with a specialist mental health school support worker who comes in on a monthly basis to act as a sounding board for staff if they have any concerns about children. They also meet with parents to support them, and recently led a three-session anxiety course for parents. “With mental health services so stretched at the moment, having her as a resource where we can call her and say we’re worried about a child and ask for her advice, is a tremendous help.”
We have also tapped into the power of pets in the classroom. Statistics show time and time again that animals can help relieve stress and anxiety in children, and can regulate breathing and heart rates. Animals have been known to help calm children during panic attacks, and can be considered their friends, helping them feel less alone. We recognise that the school’s chickens and rabbits can be a great tool in helping the children regulate their emotions which allows a restorative approach to behaviour management to take place.
The School Shop. With the news full of reports about the cost-of-living crisis, the school is clear about the link worrying over rising costs may have on the emotional health of families. According to Aisling Traynor, Head of Advice and Training for the charity Mental Health UK, “Money and mental health problems are often interlinked, and together these issues can create a worrying cycle that can lead to problems in other parts of our lives, putting stress on our relationships and negatively impacting our wellbeing.”
We don’t ask for payment from parents for anything we offer here, but instead we use it as a means of ensuring our pupils and their families never have to go without. The Shop is open two days a week and offers a whole range of provisions. We receive donations from a local food bank, from Morrisons, and even a local farm shop which kindly offers fresh produce for our community. Parents are encouraged to come in and take what they need, and we’ve worked hard to make sure it is a judgement-free zone, so no one feels unable to access this service. As a school we also provide uniform items at the shop, as we know this can build into a significant additional cost for families. It means that our pupils can come to school looking their best, and no one feels ashamed if their family is struggling financially.
The following websites and resources may be helpful:
Young Minds Parent Helpline 0808 802 5544 (Monday – Friday 9.30am-4pm)
NHS 111 (For help, advice and reassurance 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year)
Mind information line 0300 123 3393 (Monday – Friday 9am-6pm)