During this unsettling time you or your child may find you are more anxious than usual. You may be concerned about your physical health, family members, money or food. You may be unsure how to support your child's emotional Wellbeing at this time and your own. This is OK and it is really important to know it is OK not to be OK. This is a really unsettling time and it is normal to feel this way. There are services that can support you and your child and online resources.
Action for Children have come up with a simple way for you to recognise if your child is struggling with their mental health, M-A-S-K.
M-Mood-They get irritable, argumentative or aggressive towards you. They may blame you if things go wrong. They can also become withdrawn.
A-Actions-They may experience changes in eating and sleeping patterns. Look out for any signs of bullying, alcohol, drugs or self-harm.
S-Social-They suddenly appear especially bored, lonely or withdrawn or they start to get into trouble. Losing interest in friends and other things they liked to do or missing school are common warning signs.
K-Keep Talking-Refusing or being reluctant to talk about how they’re feeling is common. But keep listening and ask how they are feeling. When they do open up, make sure they know there’s someone there who really cares.
For more information please visit https://www.actionforchildren.org.uk/support-for-parents/children-s-mental-health/
Please do contact the school if you need some guidance if you are concerned about your child's mental health and wellbeing.
Mentally Healthy Schools have provided a hub of resources on one simple sheet. They have several different toolkits focusing on wellbeing and anxiety for both adults and children. These toolkits contain many resources from a variety of services to help reduce anxiety at this time.
Mind is a fantastic mental health charity which can provide support to both children and adults. Here is some more information on resources, advice for parents, explanations of accessing mental health services and other questions or resources you may need.
Children and young people can feel more pressure than ever before in 21st Century life. Technology and Social Media have created a world where we are more exposed and can feel pressurised to appear to have the perfect life and the perfect appearance. We interact less in person and more online. The world is more materialistic with a pressure to wear the right things, have the right shoes. There are expectations on attitude and behaviour in every situation and it can be a struggle to be your own unique self. We want our children to leave our school ready to face these pressures and expectations and know that who they are as themselves is beautiful, unique and something to be celebrated. We want them to leave with the skills to face difficult situations and know there is support through family, friends and agencies. We want them to be able to use Technology for all it’s positives but not drown in the negatives. We want to provide them with ways to take a break from the busy world, take stock and just be. We want them to know they are enough as they are. To achieve this we need to put Personal Development and Wellbeing at the heart of Our Lady of Lourdes.
Personal Development and Wellbeing of both pupils and staff are at the heart of everything we do. It underpins our core values. It is just as key to get right the Personal Wellbeing of pupils and ensure our children excel in this area as it is to support success in the National Curriculum-if not more so. Children cannot focus and learn if their emotional Wellbeing is not taken care of first and foremost. We base our policies around it (our latest behaviour policy is a great example of this) and all new initiatives come with a great focus on how this will positively affect the mental Wellbeing of the school community. This is because we believe that the best learning and outcomes will be achieved when the personal happiness, content and health of both staff and students come first. We believe by leading with this as our main priority this will feed into and result in success in:
To support our vision to ensure that Personal Development and Wellbeing is at the heart of everything we have implemented a series of measures to ensure we succeed.
JIGSAW is a scheme of work that incorporates what must be taught in schools (Personal, Social and Health Care) as well as emotional literacy, social skills and spiritual journey. It is taught weekly and covers a range of issues that are relevant to each year group. For example in Reception children may examine unkind behaviours, how this makes someone else feel and how to fix a situation when we make the wrong choice. In older years they may look at online issues that can face children, peer pressure and unrealistic expectations. There is also aspects of meditation included and breathing exercises practice returning our bodies to a calm state.
‘Jigsaw is a unique, spiral, progressive and effective scheme of work, aiming to prepare children for life, helping them really know and value who they truly are and understand how they relate to other people in this ever-changing world.’ JIGSAW 2020
Mental Health and Wellbeing Specialist Award
We are currently working towards the Mental Health and Wellbeing Specialist Award as a part of the Bristol Healthy Schools initiative. This is to recognise the steps we have taken as a school to put Personal Development and Wellbeing at the forefront of everything we do. To achieve this we will have to prove a variety of things such as a change in curriculum focus, the school culture and physical environment. We have been working hard on all these things and more and are keen to be recognised for the work we do. As we work towards this achievement and beyond we have implemented and will implement a variety of systems to help support this culture focus. These include:
Our buddy benches system has been a very successful one. We have installed colourful benches on the playground where children who are feeling upset may sit down. Other children then know this person is feeling upset and they may sit with them/talk to them/invite them to play with them. We have found this has resulted in children supporting each other when feeling upset.
Problem Solving Pyramid:
The problem solving pyramid has really helped our children develop independence and given them strategies to deal with emotions such as anger and deal with a situation in a calmer manner by using strategies provided in the problem solving pyramid.
Take 15 is a time after lunch where we spend 15 minutes engaging in a mindfulness activity. Lunchtime can be a time of high emotions both positive and negative and take 15 helps us to reset a little ready for an afternoon of learning. These activities can include yoga, mindfulness colouring, story time.
Break Out Spaces:
We are all human and we cannot discourage or discredit negative emotions that children experience. Sometimes we struggle to achieve reason over these emotions (including adults) and can struggle to express these emotions. For children who face a situation that results in them struggling to control their emotions break out spaces have been set up around the school. These are safe spaces with calming sensory items where children can go to express and calm down before discussing with an adult how they are feeling and how this could be remedied or dealt with now and in the future.
Mental Health Ambassadors:
We are working towards setting up a team of Mental Health Ambassadors taken from upper KS2. These children will be trained in helping children who are struggling with their emotions. Watch this space as this idea becomes a reality and more details are made available.