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Leadership webinar: mental health in school pupils (video and webchat)

Discussion in 'Senior Leadership Team' started by AndrewFIS, Jul 27, 2016.

  1. AndrewFIS

    AndrewFIS Occasional commenter TES Leadership Expert

    How can school leaders help their pupils avoid or mitigate the flurry of mental health issues?

    As part of the TES Leadership webinar series, I’ll be putting your questions to Natasha Devon, the campaigner on mental health and body image issues.

    We will examine the key ways in which schools can protect their pupils from mental health issues.

    Post your questions below now - and, if you can, join in our live webchat on October 3 at 4.30pm.

    Before that, you can watch a video we’ve made in which Natasha and I discuss the issues, with key advice for school leaders.


    To access all the videos in the TES Leadership series, plus an exclusive database of grants available to schools, become a TES Leadership subscriber.
  2. TES_Rosaline

    TES_Rosaline Administrator Staff Member


    Don't forget to submit your questions below ahead of next month's webchat.

    Thank you.
  3. TES_Rosaline

    TES_Rosaline Administrator Staff Member


    Don't forget you can post your questions here for Natasha Devon ahead of today's webchat or you can post them during the discussion which starts at 4.30pm.
  4. janecolelh

    janecolelh New commenter

    Are schools and colleges all aware of the statutory Individual Healthcare Plans for medically unwell pupils including those with poor mental health? It's a powerful document when used well as it is a joined-up plan between education provider, parents, pupil and medical team eg CAMHS. I am finding though that many schools have not even heard of it, even though it became statutory in September 2014!
    Jane - Hampshire
  5. TES_Rosaline

    TES_Rosaline Administrator Staff Member

    Good afternoon and welcome to today’s webchat.

    The TES Leadership webchats give you the opportunity to put your questions to industry experts about key school management and operational issues.

    In a few moments I will hand you over to Andrew, who is editor of FIS, who will be hosting this week's hour-long webchat.

    Andrew and this week's guest, leadership expert panel member Natasha Devon, the campaigner on mental health and body image issues, who will be available for the next hour to answer your questions.

    If you have any questions please submit them below. Don't worry if we run out of time, any unanswered questions will be responded to and posted on this thread later this week.

    I'll now hand you over to Andrew.

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    Whilst TES Global and the panel of leadership experts make every effort to ensure the high quality and accuracy of the Content, TES Global and each leadership expert makes no representation or warranty (express or implied) concerning the Content. Neither TES Global nor any leadership expert will be responsible for any damage or loss related to any use of the Content.

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  6. AndrewFIS

    AndrewFIS Occasional commenter TES Leadership Expert

    Hello and welcome to this TES webinar. My name is Andrew Maiden.

    Today I’m talking to Natasha Devon, who is an expert on mental health and body image. We’re going to be discussing mental health issues in schools. Welcome, Natasha, thanks for joining us.

    Could we begin by defining the scope of mental health issues in schools?
  7. Natasha_Devon

    Natasha_Devon New commenter TES Leadership Panel Expert

    Hi Andrew

    Schools are an environment where universal skills for mental health (critical thinking, identifying stress relieving activities (sports, drama, arts, dance) and learning emotional vocabulary) can be practised and preached. Teachers are also well placed to spot early signs of mental illness. But that should be the extent of their remit. People who are experiencing significant emotional and psychological distress need proper therapeutic and/or medical care. That’s why such a big part of my job as a campaigner is to highlight the costs of mental health services, because despite all the rhetoric they are being cut and it is schools who are being expected to plug that gap. That isn’t right or fair and it’s having a detrimental impact on teachers’ own mental health.
  8. debbiehicks5

    debbiehicks5 New commenter

    Having seen PHSE being taught by 'those that can't', the concerns raised by Natasha in the video intro ring true. If PHSE topics were, instead, covered within other curriculum subjects, perhaps they would be rated more highly by pupils and the promotion of wellbeing might be embedded more evenly across the curriculum and by more members of the school community. Your thoughts?
  9. AndrewFIS

    AndrewFIS Occasional commenter TES Leadership Expert

    Thank you @debbiehicks5, we'll answer your question shortly.

    Natasha, what is the overall standard of mental health in schools?
  10. Natasha_Devon

    Natasha_Devon New commenter TES Leadership Panel Expert

    Hi Debbie

    In my report for the Child & Adolescent Mental Health Commission I talk a lot about PSHE, because done right it's incredibly valuable. A good PHSE lesson on mental health should, at least in part, be universally relevant, acknowledging that every pupil in the room has a brain and therefore a mental health.

    Self-Esteem Team (the organisation of which I'm 1/3) lessons have a 92% success rate of increasing pupil understanding of mental health, 87% success rate of making them feel more confident to talk about their feelings seek help if they need it and 95% success rate of leaving pupils feeling positive and inspired. This is for two reasons:

    1. The relationship between class and the person delivering – SET are a ‘new face’, not lecturing or moralising, more of a ‘big sister’ than an authoritarian figure;
    2. We have taken the (significant) time to train ourselves specifically in this field and research the subject matter.

    This is not to suggest that SET are the only organisation getting PHSE right –There are many throughout the UK, but schools need s budget to buy in their services, or where teachers feel confident to deliver the lessons themselves, they need to time to train properly – on-going so they can keep themselves abreast of trends and cultural changes which affect the subject matter they are teaching - and a budget to buy in any extra resources they may need. This won't happen whilst it isn't mandatory.
  11. Natasha_Devon

    Natasha_Devon New commenter TES Leadership Panel Expert

    Just to throw this back at you – do you mean the standard of mental health amongst pupils and/or teachers or the standard of mental health schools are able to provide?
  12. AndrewFIS

    AndrewFIS Occasional commenter TES Leadership Expert

    The former, please
  13. debbiehicks5

    debbiehicks5 New commenter

    Thank you Natasha. I can see the advantages of the SET approach, delivered by experts who are comfortable with these topics. Nevertheless, if we hope to embed the promotion of wellbeing across the school, rather than confining it to a specific domain, shouldn't curriculum subject teachers be engaging with their pupils on these issues as part of their normal lessons, rather than as a discrete subject?
  14. Natasha_Devon

    Natasha_Devon New commenter TES Leadership Panel Expert

    That is an incredibly difficult thing to generalise on, because mental health issues manifest in such different ways according to environment and perceived social ‘norms’. However, I’d say broadly that mental health issues are increasing dramatically amongst both children and teachers (remembering mental health issues are distinct from mental illnesses, where a number of diagnostic criteria have to be present for a diagnosis to be made). Depending on where you are, these mental health issues might manifest in pupils as body image insecurities, self-harm epidemics or extreme academic anxiety.

    I’ve written in my TES column this week about the difficulty of relying on statistics to measure invisible wellbeing criteria – At the moment we only know about the needs of the people who are able to articulate those needs. I suspect mental health issues are far more widespread than most people realise.
  15. Natasha_Devon

    Natasha_Devon New commenter TES Leadership Panel Expert

    I think, ideally you’d have both (I know I might be asking for the moon on a stick here considering the constraints of the education system and available budgets). But if I were Queen of Everything I’d embed wellbeing into the way teachers teach and the very fabric of the curriculum (in the way you describe) as well as having experts come in and speak to pupils every now and then.
    debbiehicks5 likes this.
  16. AndrewFIS

    AndrewFIS Occasional commenter TES Leadership Expert

    Are there factors endemic in schools that are inadvertently increasing mental health problems?
  17. debbiehicks5

    debbiehicks5 New commenter

    Agree with all the above and assume that for 'people who are able to articulate', you mean both have the capacity and the willingness to articulate - the latter being the sticking point for many, I believe.
  18. Natasha_Devon

    Natasha_Devon New commenter TES Leadership Panel Expert

    Here are some universal psychological human needs-

    1. Being Loved
    2. Being Heard/Valued
    3. Feeling Safe
    4. Having a sense of belonging
    5. Having a sense of achievement
    These are particularly pronounced in children

    The potential consequences of not having your psychological needs met in childhood are:

    • Having a lack of ‘attachment’;

    • Developing low self-esteem;
    Both of these are catastrophic to mental health and significantly increase the chances of developing anxiety, depression or eating disorders.

    I believe it is increasingly difficult for schools to meet the basic universal psychological needs of children for two primary reasons:

    1. Spiralling class sizes.

    According to a report in the Telegraph in 2014, British school class sizes are ‘amongst the biggest in the developed world’. In ever-larger classrooms, it is difficult for teachers to give each pupil the attention they need either to excel academically or to feel heard/valued.

    A larger classroom is also likely to make children feel less safe as it is more difficult for a teacher to control the behaviour of a larger class.

    Neither of these have been helped by cuts to the number of Teaching Assistants, who are able to mitigate the impact of large class sizes.

    1. Changes to the Curriculum.
    Since 2010, the state education system has undergone radical reform in an attempt to ‘improve standards’. This has meant more emphasis has been placed on core academic subjects such as Maths and English, many vocational qualifications have been cut and arts, drama, sport and pastoral subjects have been effectively squeezed out of the curriculum. I wrote to Gove in 2011 warning him that these changes would impact children's mental health for all kinds of reasons, not least of all because sports and arts are essential for our mental wellbeing and if you don't teach children healthy coping mechanisms for stress, they'll find toxic ones.
  19. AndrewFIS

    AndrewFIS Occasional commenter TES Leadership Expert

    What should school leaders be doing to mitigate mental health issues?
  20. debbiehicks5

    debbiehicks5 New commenter

    Three more to consider:
    3. Perceptions of increased scrutiny of body image by peers with an ever higher bar.
    4. Increased pressure for examination and other successes (within a context that everyone can do anything to the highest standard).
    5. (More controversial) Lack of opportunities for failure (in 'safe' settings)

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