Mental health, wellbeing, bereavement and behaviour
I am not an expert in mental health (apart from my own), wellbeing, bereavement or behaviour – actually as a SENCO I know a little bit about a lot, but I don’t think I’d be any good on Mastermind!
I can’t give you a blog on understanding those needs but I can point you in the direction of resources that can support. And on that note, I feel there are three strands to explore.
- The support available for staff experiencing any of these things,
- The training opportunities available for staff
- The support available for pupils and families.
It is without doubt that these aspects will be a focus for us over the forthcoming months.
I’ve tried to give courses and websites alongside books and other forms of support – and I’ve turned to Facebook for some of those suggestions. This may seem odd, but I am useless at locating or remembering the name of the website I want to go back to and I can guarantee I’ll forget to hit the bookmark key! Facebook groups, especially private ones, allow you to easily find them and ask individual question…of course, that comes with the health warning that the person who responds might not be an expert!
I have a tip at this point for anyone who pops along to these sites and signs up for newsletters…create a filter in your email box otherwise your own wellbeing will suffer when faced with 30 odd well-meaning emails a day.
Isolation can increase psychological distress.
The absence of in-person peer interaction can negatively affect children’s social skills.
Without friends to hang out with, boredom can give way to risky behaviours.
And without classmates to work with collaboratively or competitively, school performance may take a hit. Let’s face it the reason most children, especially teenagers, go to school is to socialise with their friends so their academic motivation may decline.
Technology and online tools might provide opportunities for them to connect with whilst maintaining social distancing.
Many schools now have a wellbeing ambassador assigned and trained mental health first aiders and hopefully they are collating information and sharing with the staff. There will be many more local opportunities open to you than I can produce here.
Part of the issue we face is that mental health and wellbeing are often well hidden even when we are stood directly in front of someone. Now we are working away from each other it will be difficult to notice if staff are not coping. There is a certain degree of taking responsibility for our own acknowledgement of need and seeking support or informing our line managers, but that will mean information needs to be available in order to signpost staff to what is available.
Signs (from a distance) of deteriorating mental health may include the way the individual responds to emails or messages and requests, perhaps responses are blunt, or even ignored…just not the way the individual usually responds.
Mental Health, Wellbeing for staff
We can also signpost staff towards training for mental health and wellbeing. The courses on screen are designed so that staff have a basic knowledge of the issues which can benefit their own needs but are also able to be applied when we return.
Some of these courses are free whilst others are paid.
Staff experiencing difficulties
●www.educationsupport.org.uk is available 24/7 for all staff in education 08000562561 and offer telephone support and counselling. Schools with a purchased package have access to further services.
●Steve Waters has the Teach Well Toolkit www.teachwellalliance.com/teach-well-toolkit which senior leaders may consider as a purchase for their whole school.
●Green Shoots Psychology over on Facebook have an emotional health toolkit.
The Public Health Agency for Northern Ireland has published a framework for leaders and managers to help support the wellbeing of health and social care staff during the coronavirus crisis – I recommend poaching some of the excellent ideas! https://www.publichealth.hscni.net/sites/default/files/2020-04/HSC_Regional%20Staff%20Wellbeing%20Framework.pdf
●The open university has a number of modules on offer from the L2 making sense of mental health or understanding depression and anxiety, to the L3 Young people’s wellbeing
●Future learn has a L2 certificate in Counselling
●EduCare have a unit on mental wellbeing in children and young people.
●www.hopeattach.co.uk has a paid course on Risk to Wellbeing in children and young people.
●Virtual-college currently have a free course on talking to children about emotional resilience and self-harm www.virtual-college.co.uk/courses/safeguarding/understanding-young-minds
●For Facebook users Cathy Malchiodi – a trauma therapist
@SwailesRuth holds a virtual staffroom at 12:30pm each day. This could be useful for staff whose school is offering less contact.
Bereavement for staff
As always there are multiple elements to this. Staff who experience a bereavement in their family or friendship group and schools which experience the death of a member of staff and then from the point of view of training those staff who will have children in their classes who have experienced the death of a close friends or relative.
We all react to dramatic news differently. My Dad died 24 years ago, but it didn’t really hit me until 8 years later when I had children of my own.
The Educare course below is a paid one at £18.50 as a standalone course and is one I can personally recommend having studied it last year.
Staff who have experienced bereavement
●www.cruse.org.uk – 08088081677 cruse will support children, young people and adults when someone dies and there is a comprehensive database of materials.
●Where a school is faced with the loss of a member of staff: www.reachpsychology.co.uk
Staff Training available
●Winston’s wish offer a 3-day training course in childhood bereavement (not available now until September 2020)
●http://sabp.lgfl.org.uk/ this online tool replaces the training course usually offered by the childhood bereavement network – it has a module around recognising your own vulnerabilities.
Mental health and wellbeing for pupils and families
It’s all well and good sending staff on virtual training courses, but that isn’t going to help families with issues they are experiencing at the moment. Again, many more local opportunities will be available to you, but these on the screen are all online options designed to support children and or their families with mental health and wellbeing issues. As the SENCO you will be best placed to know which type of support is likely to be of most use to your families…do they need a course, or a video? Do they need a book to share, or just a website to peruse or Facebook group to dip into.
●https://bt./ly/2wxCAMO – Dr Pooky Knightsmith on YouTube (also had some excellent training sessions but these have now reverted to paid)
●www.greatmindstogether.co.uk offers everything from virtual support to CPD courses
●https://www.goodthinkingpsychology.co.uk/. Managing children’s emotions during lockdown
●www.bbc.com/ownit is available online and also has a wellbeing app that children can use
Bereavement and Behaviour for pupils and families
We know that some families will, unfortunately, experience bereavements. Winston’s Wish is a name that most SEN Leaders will be familiar with. And the childhood bereavement network have links to some booklets to support families. Clare Shaw has two beautiful books about handling emotions and also about when someone dies, which are not only beautifully illustrated but also present the information in such a way that there is a strong opportunity for family discussion.
Finally, there have been lots of questions from parents and from SENCOs trying to support parents about how to deal with what is described by those families as ‘deteriorating behaviour’. It is likely the lack of school routine, uncertainty, family changes, the demands of a new way of working and a lack of social modelling that is making these things more apparent. We can’t demand parents instil a school day with its rigid timetables, but offering a suggestion around routines might help, along with reducing the demands of a ‘home school’. We know many of our non-neurotypical children do not react well to school work in the home; it’s in the wrong place.
●Winston’s Wish: www.winstonswish.org 08088020021
●https://theyarethefuture.co.uk/coronavirus-loss-grief Loss and grief in children and teenagers (not bereavement losses) & worry and anxiety
●Routine (the EEF has a parent guide on this)
●Yvonne of the The SEND Handbook on Facebook also runs The SEND VCB Project (violent child behavior) which offers advice and mutual support to parents who have a child exhibiting violent behaviours.
●StarLine (www.starline.org.uk) launched recently and offers tips and resources for home learning alongside support with behaviour. 03303139162
Two beautiful books by Clare Shaw
As I said at the start there are lots of links and no ‘advice’ from me. You will know what is best for your staff students and families and this blog was written to signpost you to some of those materials.
A lot more links
Samh.org .uk – Based in Scotland offer support for children and young people
Contactarmedforces.co.uk – a group of charities working with the NHS and MoD
Pace2be.org.uk – a MH charity working with pupils, families and staff in UK schools
Thecalmzone.net – 0800 585858 – Campaign against living miserably to help young male adults
Annafreud.org – national centre for children and families. The London base can be contacted on 020 7794 2313
Papyrus-uk.org – prevention of young suicide. 0800 0684141
www.mental health org.uk
Mental health foundation – 0207803 1101, for mental health and learning difficulties
Together – 02077807300 – supporting people through health services
BACP – British Council of Counselling and PSychotherapy – 01455 883300
Childline – 0800 1111
Lesbian and gay switchboard (London) 020 7837 7324
www.themix.org.uk – 0808 808 4994 – support for under 25s
Nshn.co.uk – national self harm forum
Lifesigns.org.uk – Life Signs – self injury guidance and network support
Selfharm.co.uk – free online self harm support for 14-19 year olds
Apps and Tools
Healthymindsonlinecom – for ages 12+
Mindshift CBT app, Canada
Sam-app.org.uk – firstname.lastname@example.org, developed by Bristol University.