Mental Health and Wellbeing in St. Elizabeth’s Catholic Primary School
At St. Elizabeth’s Catholic Primary School we take a coordinated and evidence-informed approach to mental health in school that leads to improved wellbeing, for both adults and children, which, in turn, can improve learning. The children at St. Elizabeth’s are encouraged to be active participants in their mental health and well-being journey. Their participation is grounded in accomplishments, challenges and new experiences to stimulate our children’s emotional literacy.
“a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses or life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.” (World Health Organization, 2014)
The above definition from the World Health Organization implies that positive mental health is not merely being physically fit and well but the capacity to prosper. Teacher’s at St. Elizabeth’s Catholic Primary School have a pivotal role in facilitating this ability, because we see the children everyday and can identify changes in behaviour, attendance or attainment.
How we monitor Mental Health and Wellbeing
Children who exhibit mental health concerns are spotted using our assertive mentoring scheme and Stirling Children’s Wellbeing Scale to provide a robust and rigorous system that tracks trends and changes in the identification of the mental well-being needs of the children at St. Elizabeth’s Catholic Primary School. We have a software system for monitoring safeguarding, well-being and all pastoral issues called CPOMS, which enables the staff to report and share concerns instantly with the relevant people immediately and securely. Senior leaders and the pastoral team can build chronologies around children and produce reports on vulnerable pupil groups for Case Conference Meetings, Governors, OFSTED, ESTYN and ISI at the touch of a button using CPOMS and SMSC Grid-maker, which helps teachers’ capture evidence of SMSC, British values and all other aspects of pupils’ personal development in a visual map to share with others.
What we do support children with their Mental Health and Wellbeing
The answer to teaching and learning about mental health in primary school is to help children develop emotional literacy around recognising and naming their own feelings, learning how they can manage these on their own, and knowing when to ask for help. As part of teaching children to excel, we also teach them to be happy through lifelong learning, positive mental health and enabling pupils to develop the skills to manage life’s challenges. These branches to the emotional literacy are developed by the following initiatives:
The appointment of Mental Health Champions involves children in years 5/6 who are trained to work with the infants in a buddy system. Also, 1:1 play therapy sessions with our therapist Penny Jones, who uses Emotional Literacy cards to explore feelings of past, present and future.
Mentoring well-being sessions with Liz Vincent – Well Young Person Project; Weekly Relax Kids session with Louisa Campbell – Seaforth Wellbeing Centre ‘Draw and Talk’; Rainbows – supporting children suffering loss or bereavement; Relaxation lunchtime club, reading club, games club, craft club, Zumba at break time, and our Well-being Wednesday after school club facilitated by our well-being champions.
We have bought into the ‘Action for Happiness’ scheme based on the latest research to provide the 10 keys to happiness as an after-school club for a targeted group. Also, the Junior Duke Award Scheme, aims to encourage independence by providing opportunities to gain new experiences such as planting a tree.
Clangers are a Cbeebies programme of loving and supportive characters. They have inspired our flagship intervention to promote the keys to happiness, so we too can live in peace, adventure, kindness, happiness and wonder. We have Forest School that gives the children the pleasure of the outdoors, while learning new skills in a way that boosts their mood.
It is not unusual to see teachers practising guided meditation, and positive affirmations and asking the children to participate in peer massage throughout our school.
A Final Word
Happiness is a fundamental human feeling and we consider that being able to describe, recognise and empathise with a broad range of emotions and essential life skill. Developing skills around managing our feelings and empathising with the feelings of others is at the heart of the school curriculum so that our children develop skills in managing their own feelings, guiding them in developing their own ethical and moral boundaries.