The first term is always so hectic in schools but it’s important we complete a thorough self-assessment before we decide to introduce any new mental health & wellbeing initiatives.
I ended last month by going back into the EduPod platform and logging detailed evidence in the Audit tool.
To get Committed you need to meet the criteria below with supporting evidence. Even though I’m confident we are at this stage already I still need to collate the evidence and go through the process
There are different ways you can collect the evidence. Here are some of my suggestions:
Evidence could be in the form of the school’s vision statement or at least a statement of intent from the Head Teacher or in the school development plan but it needs to be clear that the MHWB approach is whole school and the school is committed to implementing this approach
Evidence could be in roles that are given to middle leaders and SLE from supporting staff wellbeing to student wellbeing. For example: having a HR manager to support staff and Mental Health First Aiders for students and staff
Evidence could be spending more on CPD. For example, training mental health first aiders and delivering whole school training on the signs to look out for & strategies for support and interventions, to committing to paying for the EduPod online platform.
Evidence could be where a school is attached to a mental health and wellbeing consortium or evidence where they have been collaborating with other schools; appointing a Governor as a lead on mental health and wellbeing and a commitment to working with external agencies
Evidence here is ensuring that a DMHL has actually been appointed and they are collaborating directly with SLE in terms of influencing strategic decisions which means the line manager must be at least one member of the SLE if the DMHL is not a senior leader.
Evidence here could be in the student and staff mental health and wellbeing policy or guidance documents; the school development plan or the overall vision of the school on the website.
Evidence here could be in the school development plan which is sent out; or the first day back Head Teacher address to all staff; a copy of the student and staff mental health and wellbeing guidance documents are emailed out to all staff and Governors; Assemblies to students on why mental health matters and how they can support each other and where there is support in the school
The purpose of a mental wellbeing program in a school should be to destigmatize; raise awareness & promote positive lifestyle choices for mental and emotional wellbeing.
But often it is difficult to know where to begin. The demographic nature of each school and community will be different and so will their related needs. The mental wellbeing barometer will differ too.
I often get asked the question: Tell me where I should start. What should I do?
My automatic reply is your mandate must come from the student & staff voice. It is essential that schools listen to the needs before they roll out various whole school initiatives. What might make sense and be right for a small school in rural Surrey will not be necessarily relevant for a large inner-city school in Hampshire. Doing your research does take time but it will be worth it in the end because your data will drive your initiatives. Missing out this step will mean you are not identifying needs specific to your school community therefore you are not ensuring the initiatives are grassroots led and relevant.
What I like about the EduPod platform is there is a survey for all the stakeholders with an easy link which you can email out to all students. The bonus is of course the EduPod platform will collate all the results and give my school an action plan moving forward.
The EduPod surveys also have the following as their introduction to taking part in the survey which makes the purpose of the survey very clear and I like the fact that it is short and anonymous
Our school are invested in supporting the emotional and mental health needs of our school community. It is important to us that we capture your feedback as this will help us to develop our work, and make sure we are meeting everyone’s needs.
The information from this questionnaire will be used to help us develop our strategy to creating a whole school approach to mental health. This short questionnaire is anonymous so we will not be able to match any personal details with your answers.
In addition, the surveys are easy to follow. Here is a screenshot of part of the students’ survey:
I’m hoping to send out the surveys at the end of this month which means before Christmas we can have a clear snapshot of where the gaps are in rolling out a clear mental health and wellbeing strategy. From then on, it is all about taking our cue from the EduPod action plans where we will be supported and able to track our progress as we go for the next stage of the accreditation process: Achieving.