It is the start of the academic year and with Covid-19 pressures not showing any sign of abating the role of the Designated Mental health Lead is more important than ever in helping strategically create a culture of mental wellbeing for staff and students.
In this series of blogs for Innovating Minds, I will be sharing my monthly progress as I work with the online platform EduPod. EduPod will help me conduct the self-assessment audit too, and provide me with the data to inform the direction we need to move in as a school.
Developed by Innovating Minds CIC, EduPod is the first online platform for mental health leads. It is a new way for mental health leads to plan, manage and evaluate their journey to creating happy and mentally healthy environments for the whole school community.
Why I am excited about using Edupod?
- It has a comprehensive self-assessment audit looking at everything from leadership to staff support, student support, working with external agencies and assessing the general readiness and motivation to embrace this culture;
- It hosts pre-generated surveys, validated by clinicians, that will allow us to capture feedback from the student and staff school community. EduPod will also analyse the data for us (no more creating my own on survey monkey and worrying about the questions being ok in terms of safeguarding or me having to dissect the results);
- The Mental Health First Aiders and myself have Access to over 100 resources and webinars to keep topping up our training and also to help us implement our strategy by learning from schools and experts within the field of mental health;
- We can seek guidance from the team of experts from Innovating Minds clinicians and the Edupod community;
- It has an accreditation scheme that rewards the journey from commitment to excelling in the implementation.
This journey will involve me working with key stakeholders ranging from governors to student and staff body. First up is the Governing body. Its important to remember that the Governors and trustees can support pupil mental health and wellbeing by working with the DMHL and SLT to:
- Oversee the student and staff mental health and wellbeing policies or guidance documents
- Ensure all stakeholders - staff, students, parents and carers are clear about the strategic mental health and wellbeing vision of the school;
- To conduct surveys and focus groups and get feedback from the stakeholders and work with the DMHL in refining strategic focus based on the feedback;
- To oversee the roll out of teaching about mental health and wellbeing in the curriculum ensuring the students make a positive contribution to society so that they can make informed choices about their emotional wellbeing;
- That a school culture exists to understand that we all have mental health and a duty to check in, look out for the signs and ensure colleagues and peers are supported and signposted to where there is help.
As you log on to the EduPod platform you are greeted with the self-assessment audit tool.
This is quite a rigorous process and has taken me a few weeks as I needed to work closely with key senior members in accessing the right data. For example , in the basic assessment details and school current statistics session I had to ask the HR about the stats for staff absence, due to mental health concerns, and the Bursar about the expenditure on staff cover and then work with the SLT member leading on pastoral for all the information about number of students eligible for pupil premium and student attendance/exclusions and fixed term exclusions. You might find yourself asking why all this information is relevant and it could feel quite invasive for SLT asking for this data. The answer - it’s important that we get a truthful snapshot of the student/staff attendance statistics and pastoral support as this will give a clear idea of how mentally healthy the whole school environments is for the whole school community. It’s important to also collect the data so when you do the self-assessment again you can measure the impact the whole school approach has had on attendance, exclusions, HR costs and referrals. It is really important to measure the impact - it will pay dividends in the future.
The advice from EduPod is:
"Be honest, and do not wait to complete the audit because you want to put something in place first. The whole idea is to capture and demonstrate the journey you have been on".
Once you have got the school stats out the way you move on to the Audit tool. There are five principles which you will judge your school by:
- Readiness and Motivation
- Leadership and strategy
- Working Together
- Staff Support and Development
- Student Support
These 5 areas are known as the backbone of the whole school approach to mental health. I completed these with the Mental Health First Aiders and the DSL. The mental health lead should not be completing this audit in isolation.
At first, I whizzed through it thinking we could confidently rate our school against each statement. The criteria used are:
No Evidence: Nothing or very little in place.
Some Evidence: Some good practice in place but needs more attention.
Strong Evidence: Lots of good practice in place and working effectively
But then I noticed the 'i' button which is a tool tip encouraging me to add notes . The Edupod platform advises us to write notes as this will help us to log evidence and it can also be used when we apply for the accreditation.
So, this week I’m planning to go back into the platform and actually log detailed evidence in the Audit tool. I know the surveys are waiting to be sent out but it's important I am thorough as possible. It is important not to compromise on our self-assessment audit and making detailed notes. This is because we will need the evidence when we go for the much sought after accreditation - being a school which is EXCELLING
Find out more: www.myedupod.com