Promotion and prevention
Prevention involves both promoting children’s mental health and wellbeing and taking action to de-escalate difficulties early on.
Schools can play a critical part in many different ways to help promote good mental health in children and to prevent later problems.
This can be achieved through:
- A positive and supportive school ethos, creating an environment that enhances children and school staff’s mental health.
- Curriculum-based activities supporting key social and emotional skills.
- Making the most of positive peer relationships and school staff relationships.
- Capitalising on the many light-touch daily contacts that staff have with children and families.
All of these preventative opportunities rely on the support of school leadership – and particularly the drive of a head teacher who models positive self-care, resilience and strong social and emotional skills.
Making the most of staff relationships
Teachers and other staff members are key people in the lives of children at school – and you don’t have to be an expert in mental health and wellbeing to make a difference.
There are very simple ways to make best use of everyday contacts to ensure that each child in a class feels supported, valued and nurtured.
Positive and supportive school ethos
Creating a positive and supportive school ethos is a key element of a whole-school approach to mental health and wellbeing. It is critical to the way staff feel about what they do and how they interact with each other and their pupils. It is also vital for children – to give them a sense of safety and belonging as well as the tools they need to develop and thrive.
Peer support is about children feeling accepted and included by other pupils. It can help children feel like they belong in a school and can be an important factor in reducing bullying and conflict.It can be encouraged in schools in both informal and formal ways.
Teaching and learning about mental health and wellbeing
Schools can help children develop strong social and emotional skills and knowledge.
Learning these skills promotes good mental health and acts as a key preventative strategy which can impact on all pupils, from the youngest child in the school through to those who are about to face the potentially significant challenge of transitioning to secondary school.