World Mental Health Day, observed on 10 October, is an opportunity to raise awareness of mental health issues and to mobilise efforts in support of mental health. This year, the theme is suicide prevention. Every year close to 800 000 people take their own life and there are many more people who attempt suicide. Every suicide is a tragedy that affects families, communities and entire countries and has long-lasting effects on the people left behind. Suicide occurs throughout life and is the second leading cause of death among 15-29 year-olds globally.
The day provides an opportunity for all stakeholders working on mental health issues to talk about their work, and what more needs to be done to make mental health care a reality for people worldwide. Our mental health is just like our physical health: everybody has it and we need to take care of it.
Mental health problems affect around one in four people in any given year. They range from common problems, such as depression and anxiety, to rarer problems such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
The charity YoungMinds is calling on schools across the country to take part in #HelloYellow to show young people they’re not alone with their mental health. Schools that register for #HelloYellow will receive a free pack, including a mental health assembly plan as well as a range of activities. They have also recently partnered with the Beano to provide content for Under 12s, Meet Mandi, looks at getting your first phone and some top tips for children. Young Minds also has a section on suicidal feelings including helplines and signs to look out for.
The Relationships Education, Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) and Health Education statutory (from 2020) guidance from the DfE incorporates aspects of mental health including positive emotional and mental wellbeing, learning when (and how) to get help and tackling stigma. Importantly, it outlines the link between physical and mental health, and how one can impact on the other. The PHSE association has updated its guidance and lesson plans around teaching mental health and wellbeing in line with the statutory guidance.
Mentally Healthy Schools have put produced a specially designed toolkit for Primary Schools to use on World Mental Health Day. This fantastic resource provides primary schools with a range of practical resources to help inform and boost wellbeing for pupils and staff. The toolkit includes: posters, classroom activities, lesson plans, an assembly plan, mindfulness exercises, tools and guidance as well as videos and animations.
Public Health England and the NHS have also launched Every Mind Matters to help people take simple steps to look after their mental health, improve their mental wellbeing and support others. The video below will be shown on TV over the next week to highlight #EveryMindMatters
LGfL have partnered with Young Minds to produce Healthy Minds, these materials have been designed to support staff and young people to understand mental health better and help build resilience to prevent mental health issues from developing.
The open access resource features a range of teacher led activities involving group work promoting self reflection and video content with supporting activities. The main activities are designed for use with learners in Upper KS2, KS3 and KS4. Some resources are designed for use by staff and/or for parents.
The resource is split into the following sections:
- Mental health and resilience activities for young people
- Mental health and resilience resources for staff
- No Harm done – materials for staff, parents and young people
- Handy Websites and Apps
If you are an LGfL school you can also access free training to support Mental Health in schools, these include Mental health first aid training and Mental health designated lead training, you can find further details and book the courses here. We also have our Inclusion and Wellbeing conference on the 1st November, the theme for the conference is Communication to support inclusion and wellbeing and will feature a series of keynotes and seminars – again this is free for LGfL schools to attend, you can find further details and book your place here.
BBC Teach will also be streaming a live lesson at 2 pm on the 10th October in partnership with TES, all about emotional wellbeing, on World Mental Health Day on 10th October 2019.
In the 30-minute live, interactive lesson, they will be exploring:
- recognising emotions;
- developing resilience and a growth mindset; and
- tips for self-care.
The lesson will be hosted by Young Minds ambassador and Radio 1 Life Hacks presenter, Katie Thistleton, who will be joined by our special guest, clinical psychologist Dr Hazel Harrison. This programme will be streamed live from 2pm on BBC Teach, and will be made available to view again on the website after the live broadcast so you can re-visit it with your class at any time. There is also a teacher guide and two activities available to go alongside the live lesson.
Striker Boy – republished in memory of the author Jonny Zucker who took his own life in November 2016. He was a loving husband and father, and creator of the SerialMash library for 2Simple. Jonny believed passionately in the power of creativity, imagination, and ideas. He dedicated his life to inspiring children to read, working for many years as a primary school teacher before becoming a successful children’s author. Jonny’s favourite of his own stories was ‘Striker Boy’ first published in 2010. Striker Boy is a fast paced thriller that sees 13-year-old Nat Dixon desperately trying to save his beloved club from relegation. It’s packed with action both on and off the pitch.
2simple have produced a range of free teacher resources to accompany the book, including an emotional resilience pack.That’s not all, as there’s also a free emotional resilience assembly great to use on World Mental health day.
Mind Moose have produced an assembly that schools can use. It introduces mental health in the context of being as important to look after as physical health before discussing ways that we can all look after our mental health. It also discusses how children and adults in a school community can help each other to look after mental health.
The Anna Freud National centre for families and children have produced an excellent booklet for supporting mental health and well being in schools – you can download it here: supporting-mental-health-and-wellbeing-in-schools. They have also produced an excellent animated video below to encourage talking about mental health in schools, great for use in assembly and in class:
They have also produced this booklet for supporting mental health and well being in Secondary schools. They have also just launched a short animation and toolkit aimed at Secondary pupils in year 7-9, you can view the resources here.
The Link Programme is a national initiative funded by the Department for Education, supported by NHS England and led by the Anna Freud Centre. It will reach every school and college in England over the next four years, identifying children and young people’s needs at an early stage and equipping professionals to support them so that more children and young people get the help and support they need, when they need it. The Link Programme will be coordinated at a local level by Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs). CCGs are responsible for commissioning health services to meet the needs of the local population. They are elected bodies and are run by GP practices. Their involvement means that schools and colleges can use their knowledge and experience to influence future service development to meet children and young people’s mental health needs.
Schools in Mind is a free network for school staff and allied professionals which shares practical, academic and clinical expertise regarding the wellbeing and mental health issues that affect schools. The network provides a trusted source of up-to-date and accessible information and resources that school leaders, teachers and support staff can use to support the mental health and wellbeing of the children and young people in their care. You can sign up to the network here.
Mentally Healthy Schools is a free and easy to use website for primary schools, offering teachers and school staff reliable and practical resources to support pupils’ mental health. Staff can access 600+ quality assured mental health resources to support the wellbeing of their pupils, including lesson plans, assemblies, guidance documents and measurement tools, alongside easy-to-understand practical information about supporting the mental health of children.
There is clear guidance on the site for what to do if anyone has concerns about a child’s mental health and wellbeing, as well as guidance on promoting and supporting the wellbeing of staff.
The vast majority of the resources are free and available to access via the site. There are a small number of evaluated, mostly licensed programmes that carry a fee, but have stronger evidence of benefiting children – either through promoting children’s social and emotional skills, or preventing or helping children recover from poor mental health.
Charlie Waller Memorial Trust – The Trust was set up in 1997 in memory of Charlie Waller, a young man who took his own life whilst suffering from depression. Shortly after his death, his family founded the Trust in order to educate young people on the importance of staying mentally well and how to do so. They have a range of free resources for schools including booklets, posters and teachers can also sign up to a book club for school mental health leads, where they can opt in to receive a book and accompanying resources once a term. These aim to enhance the skills, confidence and knowledge of those who work with children and young people, by providing them with resources they can use to promote positive mental health.
Charlie Waller are inviting Year 5 children to write a story and enter their exciting competition, which will be judged by broadcaster Mary Nightingale, who is patron of the Charlie Waller Memorial Trust. The theme is kindness. They are looking for stories that show how we can be kind to each other. They can be about people or animals; set in the real world or imaginary lands; be funny, serious or whimsical; adventurous or gentle. To enter, children must be in year 5 now or have been in year 5 when the competition opened in July, and stories can be any length between 100 and 1,000 words. The writers of the winning entry will have their story published on the CWMT website, receive a printed copy and have their story illustrated by CWMT’s Annabelle Martin who has illustrated this page. The closing date for entries is Friday 15 November, you can download the information here.
Adolescent resilience – LGfL have teamed up with Public Health England to provide links to some school-ready resources from a range of different organisations. These include information on academic research, materials for whole-school approaches as well as lesson series and one-off resources, plus targeted support for specific problems, and signposting. Links do not imply endorsement of one approach over another. Please note that not all resources have been formally evaluated, although many have been developed with schools and experts in the field. These resources are suitable for KS3, KS4 and KS5.
Public Health England have also released Rise Above for Schools, helping schools teach PSHE curriculum topics to KS3 and KS4 pupils, with flexible lesson plans and ready-to-use PowerPoints co-created with teachers, and video content developed with 11 to 16-year-olds. Some topics and films may also be suitable for Year 6.
You can also download a range of calming music for use with either meditation, assemblies or in class from Audio network.
There are many benefits to using audiobooks to support mental health, such as distracting from negative thoughts, reducing stress and helping with sleep. Students can make use of Listening books via LGfL to have precious quiet time but still benefit from the educational content on offer. Some of the books on offer at the moment that may directly help include How 2 be Happy by Jenny Alexander and Notes on being Teenage by Rosalind Jana
Islington Mental Health and Resilience in Schools (iMHARS) describes a whole-school approach to mental health and resilience. The iMHARS framework helps schools to understand the seven aspects (components) of school life that can support and contribute to pupils’ positive mental health and resilience.
The seven components have been distilled from a wide body of evidence and have been developed and tested in Islington schools.
iMHARS can be used in schools to research current practice, identify where things are working well, areas for improvement and next steps. Schools are encouraged to reflect on what support is in place to meet the needs of all pupils; for the most vulnerable pupils, for those at risk, and preventative measures for all pupils.
Time to Change is a growing social movement working to change the way we all think and act about mental health problems. They have a selection of straightforward, tried-and-tested resources and free materials to get young people in your school talking.
When I worry about things is another excellent resource from BBC Teach it is a collection of animated films that use personal testimony to explore mental health issues from the perspective of children. Alongside each, there is more information about the content of the film, and suggestions of how it could be used in the classroom. These resources are suitable for use with pupils aged 8-13.