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Mental health and wellbeing update 2021

In 2019 we issued our first mental health and wellbeing update, since then a lot has changed. We wanted to update you again on what we have been doing at Broad Oak to promote good mental health and wellbeing among our whole school community, both before and since the start of the pandemic.

In the last year we have…

  • Been identified as an Anna Freud Centre pioneer school in recognition of our work to support mental health and wellbeing
  • Held consultations, run by an external organisation, with parents, staff and children to learn what we do well and areas for improvement in relation to mental health and wellbeing
  • Introduced mindfulness and yoga classes for KS1 & KS2.
  • Continued to build on our resilience curriculum that includes Forest Crew provision for all year groups and targeted 1 to 1 SEMH support through Rainbow Island and Wild Crew.
  • Engaged in Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week running Express Yourself activities across the school.
  • Run staff wellbeing group meetings with the Staff wellbeing coordinator
  • Staff PPA can be taken off site and conducted via Zoom
  • Maintained contact with our families during lockdown, through phone contact and zoom meetings
  • Created a sense of community with Miss Bruce Challenges on Twitter and Seesaw.
  • Continued on-site provision throughout lockdown for the most vulnerable pupils
  • Promoted the importance of positive mental health to parents and highlighted available sources of support.
  • Supported the return to school through email updates and video tours to alleviate anxiety
  • Prioritised health, wellbeing and personal, social and emotional development on children’s return to school in September
  • Introduced age appropriate activities to allow the children to talk about their experiences and form a better understanding of the situation we are facing together

We aim to continue this work as we embed our whole school approach to mental health and wellbeing. If you have any comments or suggestions, we would love to hear them, please contact the school office in the first instance.

Emerging evidence on the impact of coronavirus on the children’s mental health

Since the start of the pandemic research projects have been investigating the impact of coronavirus on the mental health and wellbeing of children of all ages. Some of the projects are already reporting early findings. So far, the evidence suggests that:

  • The key mental health challenges for children so far are school closures, time away from friends, over exposure to media and health concerns.
  • There are higher than usual levels of stress and anxiety among young people and there is evidence of both short and longer term effects on mental health.
  • However, for some children there have been positive mental health responses as a result of enjoying time at home with family and having fewer pressures, such as going to school.  
  • Parents can help children manage by promoting healthy habits such as sleeping well and daily exercise
  • Having clear and honest conversations about a child’s worries helps them to cope.
  • The support needed will change through the pandemic and is will require collaboration between families, school and health services.

These findings are drawn from Emerging evidence briefings produced by the Evidence Based Practice Unit. 

Ways to support your child

Children will all react differently to the current situation and their feelings and behaviour may change in response to different challenges such as lockdown or the return to school. The following tips, taken from Every Mind Matters, may help you support your child if they are finding things difficult.  

  1. Be there to listen

Regularly talking about feelings lets children know that you are available to listen. Doing activities together may help to create space for conversations. If your child does start to talk about their feelings make sure to give your full attention.

Visit You’re never too young to talk mental health or How to start a conversation with your child for more tips.

  1. Stay involved in their life

Show interest in the things important to your child. This helps them value who they are and makes it easier for you to spot problems if their behaviour changes.

  1. Take what they say seriously

Listening to and valuing what they say, without judging their feelings or rushing to reassure, in turn makes them feel valued.

Visit Ways to support young people who are worried for more tips.

  1. Support them through difficulties

Pay attention to their behaviour and emotions and try to help your child understand how they are feeling and why.

Visit Help with difficult behaviour and emotions for more tips on how to provide support.

  1. Encourage their interests

Being active or creative, learning new things and being a part of a team help connect us with others and are important ways we can all help our mental health. Support and encourage them to explore their interests, whatever they are.

  1. Build positive routines

Regular sleep, exercise and eating routines can really help to support your child.

Visit Sleep tips for children for tips on helping establish a sleep routine.

Sources of support

There are lots of useful resources if you would like more advice and guidance. The following may be a good place to start:

Every Mind Matters - An NHS site pulling together resources from several mental health charities.

Young Minds - Includes a section aimed at Parents and a Parent helpline.

Anna Freud Centre - A young person’s mental health charity with a specific section for parents and carer.

These and other resources, including local support, can be found on the
Mental health and wellbeing page here.  

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