Do members of a school community, sometimes quietly and uncomplainingly, often feel they are only just surviving? Are the stresses of life at times too much for some pupils and staff? This is certainly the picture painted by our own research.
So when we developed the Wellbeing Award for Schools with Optimus Education, we designed it as a means for primary and secondary schools to intervene, to do something positive and take a systematic approach to improving the wellbeing and mental health of the whole school community.
Two years on from launching the Award, it is evident that many schools are not content to wait for Government promises of funding for new middle-tier mental health support or designated senior leads for mental health within schools to materialise. They are creating a movement on their own.
Over 1000 schools have taken part in the Wellbeing Award for Schools, benefitting the lives of tens of thousands of pupils, families and staff across the country.
The latest impact report on the Wellbeing Award for Schools shows how schools are embracing a whole-school approach to better mental health, are helping not only children but also the staff, volunteers, governors and parents who are a key part of the school community.
Whether it is providing mental health first aid training for staff, or designating a ‘mindful Monday’ or ‘fitness Friday’ for the entire school, or putting a stop to unnecessary evening marking, the report is brim-full of initiatives that have worked in schools across the country.
For teachers, parents or pupils who want to make mental health and wellbeing a priority in their school the report is a must-read.
“Students certainly have the vocabulary to talk about how they are feeling now…”
One of the biggest impacts of the award on schools is seen in the incredible reduction in the stigma attached to mental health. Many schools reported a big improvement in the attitude of pupils towards mental health, with staff feeling much more comfortable talking about any stress or mental health difficulties they are having themselves. This is a big change from when staff may have preferred to mask their difficulties citing a physical illness. Likewise, parents felt they weren’t being judged if they talked about their own problems within school.
Many other impacts cascade from undertaking the Award process including:
- Improved pupil behaviour
- Improved pupil wellbeing
- Improved staff wellbeing
- Improved parental wellbeing
- Improved staff morale
We hope schools reading the Impact Report will take the next step and share it with their Governors, Head teachers and pupil support teams and start building enthusiasm for a revolution in the school’s approach to its emotional health.
We live in a time when no one should suffer poor mental health in silence, and when wellbeing and resilience should be positively promoted for all. We hope you are part of the movement and join the growing numbers of schools taking action.
More information is available on the Wellbeing Award for Schools here.