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Here at Sylvester we are developing a positive ethos and culture towards a whole school approach to being a mentally healthy school. A mentally healthy school is one that adopts a whole-school approach to mental health and wellbeing.
A whole-school approach also involves all parts of the school working together and being committed. It needs partnership working between senior leaders, teachers and all school staff, as well as parents, carers and the wider community, not forgetting our school council who are trained in peer support.
We work with families to ensure the whole school community is welcoming, inclusive and respectful. It means maximizing children’s learning through promoting good mental health and wellbeing across the school – through the curriculum, early support for pupils, staff-pupil relationships, leadership and a commitment from everybody.
Please use this Wellbeing page and resources to help find out about how our school supports your child’s mental health and to access resources and support for any concerns you may have about your child’s mental health. .
Rebecca Tomlinson— Assistant Principal
Donna Hayes—Learning Mentor
Nicola Addison—KS1 Teaching Assistant
Be a Bucket Filler
WHAT IS A BUCKET FILLER?
The idea of being a Bucket Filler is based on the idea that everybody (adults and children) carries an invisible bucket around with them, all day, every day. The bucket represents our emotions and feelings and is affected by our everyday experiences. So, for example, when lots of things happen which make us feel good, our bucket becomes full (of positive emotions) and when things happen to us, which make us feel less great, our bucket becomes less full.
Negative experiences and feelings 'dip' from our buckets. Life is all about balancing this and keeping your bucket as full as possible - but it's not all about just focussing on your own bucket, because by filling other people's buckets, you top your own up, too!
During Mental Health Week the children in Sylvester set out to fill up each others buckets throughout the whole school.
Have you filled a bucket today?
Fill a Bucket
Introduction to the award
Developed in partnership with the National Children’s Bureau (NCB), the Wellbeing Award for Schools is intended to help schools prepare and equip themselves to promote emotional wellbeing and positive mental health across the whole-school community.
The vision is to create an education system where good emotional wellbeing and mental health are at the heart of the culture and ethos of our school, so that our pupils, with the support of their teachers, can build confidence and flourish.
Evidence shows us that wellbeing is of central importance to learning and attainment, with high levels of wellbeing associated with improved academic outcomes.
Principles behind the award:
There are four key principles driving the ideas and recommendations behind the award:
1. Emotional wellbeing and mental health are a continuum. Related issues can range from positive attitudes and behaviour, through to experiences of emotional distress and mental disorder.
2. Schools already experience and manage emotional issues on a daily basis; the objective is to minimise the impact of such issues and maximise the effectiveness of any responses.
3. Emotional wellbeing covers a range of dimensions, such as resilience, character building, relationships and self-esteem, etc. Understanding both developmental and mental health awareness is critical.
4. Creating a positive school culture requires a whole-school approach that is led from the top while involving all in the school community.
Embarking on the award process does not imply that our school is failing in this area, but rather that we are recognising the needs and demands of our school are changing and we remain committed to responding to these. Much of this change will be apparent in the issues that most schools face on a daily basis.
The whole-school community:
One theme that is central to the award is the need for schools to draw the wider community and relevant stakeholders into the centre of the change process. Parents and carers are one such group.
Evidence shows that, for parents, the emotional and mental health needs of their children is of increasing concern, and often parents look to the school to support and inform them. Pupils also need to be given the opportunity to express their own voice and this can be an influential source of good ideas for any school looking for innovative and appropriate solutions.
One important aspect of this broad community of stakeholders are utilising those who offer help and support generally and can provide access to specialist interventions. There is no doubt this aspect of a school’s strategy (i.e. how to access different types of help) is often a thorny issue. Currently there are recognised gaps in provision, limits and barriers to getting the help needed and poor communication and understanding of roles.
This award cannot solve these problems, but it will offer ideas and solutions on how best to manage and create links and partnerships needed to help those with clinical needs. As another critical group of the whole school community, the award views the wellbeing of staff as significant as that for pupils. Equipping teachers and others with the know-how and skills needed to be better informed on issues surrounding mental health is essential.
There are five stages in the WAS process and the school will be supported throughout in order to evidence best practice and to achieve the award:
1. School self-evaluation
2. Preparation of an action plan
3. Implementation of actions and collecting evidence into a portfolio
4. Interim assessment and progress
5. Verification of achievement of the award
The award is expected to be achieved within a maximum of 12-15 months. Within this timescale, the process is supportive, developmental and progressive, rather than a box-ticking, target driven exercise.
What are the 8 Objectives we are working towards?
The WAS has eight objectives which focus on areas of evaluation, development and celebration of the work of schools in promoting and protecting emotional wellbeing and positive mental health. Each of these areas is further broken down into Key Performance Indicators (KPIs):
Objective 1: The school is committed to promoting and protecting positive emotional wellbeing and mental health by achieving the Wellbeing Award for Schools.
Objective 2: The school has a clear vision and strategy for promoting and protecting emotional wellbeing and mental health, which is communicated to all involved with the school.
Objective 3: The school has a positive culture which regards the emotional wellbeing and mental health as the responsibility of all.
Objective 4: The school actively promotes staff emotional wellbeing and mental health.
Objective 5: The school prioritises professional learning and staff development on emotional wellbeing and mental health.
Objective 6: The school understands the different types of emotional and mental health needs across the whole-school community and has systems in place to respond appropriately.
Objective 7: The school actively seeks the ongoing participation of the whole-school community in its approach to emotional wellbeing
and mental health.
Objective 8: The school works in partnerships with other schools, agencies and available specialist services to support emotional wellbeing and mental health.
Thank you to our community for taking the time to complete the survey. We will be attaching the results once they are compiled and feedback has been provided. As a community we all want to provide the best possible service of mental health care and emotional support to all members of our school community.
If you have any questions about the award or comments please contact Mrs Hayes - email@example.com
We really appreciate your support – thank you.
We regularly use external resources in supporting our children, here are a few we encourage you to use:
Recognising the signs that a child may be struggling with their mental health can be really hard. A round up of help and tips to help you support children who may be experiencing depression, anxiety, suicidal feelings or self-harm from the NSPCC
Now more than ever Barnardos want to offer support to children, young people and families in need. Have a look at this link for more practical advice on how to talk to your children about the pandemic, tips on healthy eating on a budget, helping young people understand their own anxiety and much more.
Each image in this section will take you to a YouTube video centred around the topic captioned below the image.
Childhood Development Growth Mindset
Coping with fussy and frustrating feelings
Listening to your body
Challenge your brain
You are not your thoughts
The Invisible Boy
Growth Mindset vs Fixed Mindset
Just like the section above, each image can be selected and they will take you to the corresponding YouTube video!
Colour Your World With Kindness
How Full is Your Bucket?
The Kindness Book
5,4,3,2,1, Grounding Technique
Using our senses we can learn some calming technique’s that enable us to manage feelings during stressful times. Below is a countdown activity.
Think of 5 things you can see, 4 things you can feel, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell and 1 thing you can taste.
To begin, close your mouth and take in a deep breath through your nose then slowly breathe out through your mouth.
5—LOOK: Look around for 5 things that you can see, and say them quietly to yourself. For example, you could say, I see the computer, I see the cup, I see the picture frame.
4—FEEL: Pay attention to your body and think of 4 things that you can feel, and say them quietly to yourself. For example, you could say, I feel my feet warm in my socks, I feel the hair on the back of my neck, or I feel the chair I am sitting on.
3– LISTEN: Listen for 3 seconds. It could be the sound of traffic outside ,the sound of typing or the sound of your tummy rumbling.. Say the 3 things quietly to yourself.
2—SMELL: Say 2 things you can smell quietly to yourself. If you can’t smell anything at the moment name your 2 favourite smells.
1—TASTE: Say quietly to yourself 1 thing that you can taste. It may be the toothpaste from brushing your teeth, or what you ate for breakfast/lunch. If you can’t taste anything, then say your favourite thing to taste. To complete: close your mouth and take in a deep breath through your nose then slowly breathe
Access each of these resources by clicking on the pictures!
To begin this session play a stand up, sit down game.
Explain that you are going to ask your child to either stand up or sit down if any of the things you read out are something they feel frightened of or are worried about.
Stand up or sit down if you are frightened or worried about:
• Thunder and lightening
• Bees and wasps
• Moving class
• Meeting new people
• Going to school
• Going to parties
• Dark space
• Changing Routines
• Not having Friends
• Parents arguing
• Going to bed
• Visiting other homes
• Loud Noises
• Moving School
At some point all of us feel frightened or worried about something and this is normal. It’s natural that we may have more than one fear or worry, as we get older some fears go away. It’s OK to have fears or worries especially when things are changing.
You don’t have to pretend that everything is OK, when you are worried or frightened, it’s good to talk about your feelings and share them with people you trust, and this is the first step in facing up to your fears and taking some control.
Why not support your child in having them draw or write their fears or worries.
MENTAL HEALTH—helps to think more clearly, breaks cycles of negative thinking, stress management,.
EMOTIONAL HEALTH—helps depression and anxiety, helps boost happiness and joy.
SOCIAL HEALTH—Improves cooperation, communication, and empathy, improves connection.
SPIRITUAL HEALTH—Inner harmony, joy and peace.
Laughter songs: Here’s a song you can sing to the tune of BINGO
There was a boy who liked to laugh ‘cause lighting is such fun-oh, haha hahaha, ha ha hahahah, ha ha hahaha cause laughing is such fun-oh’
There was a girl who liked to giggle ‘cause giggling is such fun-oh he he hehehe, he he hehehe, he he hehehe cause giggling is such fun-oh’
There was a baby who liked to laugh ‘cause laughing is such fu-oh, tee hee heeheehee, tee-hee heeheehee, tee hee heeheehee cause laughing is such fun-oh’
Ask your child to draw on a body outline where they felt the effects of laughter, this will help them gain a deeper understanding of their laughter therapy experience.
How to help if your child is experiencing anger
What is anger?
Anger is a normal emotion which can be useful in our lives. It can, however, be destructive and disruptive in respect of relationships, behaviours and learning.
Signs you might see in your child— You may see excessive outbursts of physical or verbal behaviour such as fighting or shouting. It’s normal for teenagers during adolescent stages to have periods of emotional outbursts displaying signs of anger, but it maybe an indicator of other underlying situations or conditions that could require further support.
• With your child, identify any underlying trigger factors or situations that create feelings of anger.
• Help your child to ‘problem solve’ possible situations that cause anger.
• Give your child the opportunity to have some time out when feelings of anger build up, in order to diffuse those feelings.
• Talk to your child about our bodies and how they can change - specifically talk about how your child’s body changes when tension builds before an outburst of anger.
• Encourage your child to look for signs such as increase in temperature, sweating, breathing faster and pulse-racing.
• Do not mirror your child’s behaviour as this will cause it to escalate. Instead, manage the situation adopting a calm and controlled approach.
Encourage your child to try things to relax, such as:
● Going for a walk/run
● Listening to music
● Reading a book
● Seeing friends
Deep inside everyone a red beast is sleeping...
How to help if your child is experiencing low self-esteem
What is self-esteem?
Self-esteem is how someone thinks about themselves. Being confident means being comfortable with how they look and how they feel; it means feeling good about themselves, their abilities, and their thoughts. Low self-esteem is when someone is lacking in confidence and doubts their own decisions and abilities.
Signs you might see in your child
Your child may have poor eye contact, defensive body-posture, be withdrawn and have poor levels of participation in class activities.
Your child may engage in negative self talk, such as, “I'm not good enough” or, “I can't do this” or frequently show signs of absorbing negative comments such as, “My mum/dad says I'm not....”.
How you can support your child
Focus on positives and find something to praise your child about, such as being kind or being good at sport, etc.
Encourage your child to do more enjoyable activities - things you know your child previously enjoyed.
Focus on 'small wins', don't chase big achievements. Do the little things and use them as a springboard. Your child should be encouraged to feel proud of even small achievements.
Use the Five Ways to Wellbeing as a tool to support your child, maybe use it to make some goals together
Explore positive role models and discuss what makes your child feel good about unique differences.
Discuss and practise positive body language, encouraging good posture and eye-contact.
If your child is still giving you cause for concern,
you may wish to discuss with your school or your GP
How to help if your child is experiencing anxiety
Anxiety is a feeling of fear or panic. We all get it from time to time when we try a new experience or things that are difficult. This feeling goes back to the Neolithic time when humans were surrounded by dangers. Anxiety is the body’s alarm system that sends adrenaline around the body and gives people superhero-like boosts to allow them to run away from dangers. It’s known as the FIGHT, FLIGHT (avoiding or running away) or FREEZE response. When children get the FLIGHT or FREEZE response they may find themselves staying away from activities and people. The longer they stay away, the harder it is to go back.
What you might see in your child
Your child might display or experience different behaviours, such as: Feelings: frightened, worried, angry, nervous, embarrassed or overwhelmed. Behaviours: avoiding situations, withdrawing from social settings, biting nails, sleeping issues, tearful, struggling to concentrate, hyper-vigilant. Thoughts: worrying that nobody likes them, 'I can’t do it’, ‘I must do this’, catastrophising, negative thinking. Physical signs: frequent tummy aches, headaches, shaky hands, tense muscles or scratching.
If your child is very young, regular routines around bedtime and getting ready for school can help with separation anxiety.
It helps if you can prepare your child in advance, explain what is going to happen and why - using a calm tone of voice. Pay particular attention to situations your child may find overwhelming such as crowded spaces.
Check your child is eating healthy meals regularly to ensure balanced physical and mental energy levels.
Ask your child what they are thinking when they feel anxious. It can help to ask your child to draw a picture of him/herself with a thought bubble above his/her head to show this.
If your child is over the age of five, it might be helpful to talk about his/her worries to an understanding adult - this could be someone outside the immediate family.
Help your child to control breathing when feeling particularly anxious by visualising blowing out a big bubble. The key is to encourage your child to blow out for longer than breathing in.
Re-focus the child’s attention using music, exercise, creative activities, fidget toys or stress relief aids.
If your child is still giving you cause for concern,
you may wish to discuss with your school or your GP
How to help if your child is experiencing low mood/depression
What is low mood/depression?
Feeling sad is a normal reaction to everyday life experiences. However, when these feelings continue and begin to interfere with a child’s enjoyment of life, he/she may be feeling depressed. In its mildest form, depression can mean a child feels low. Feeling sad is a normal reaction to everyday life experiences. However, when these feelings continue and begin to interfere with a child’s enjoyment of life, he/she may be feeling depressed. In its mildest form, depression can mean a child feels low.
This may not stop a child from leading a normal life but makes everything harder to do and less worthwhile. At its most severe, depression can be life-threatening because it can make a child feel suicidal. Depression can be caused by lots of things such as life experiences, family history, bullying, feeling like he/she has a lack of support, or it may even run in the family.
What you might see in your child
You child might display or experience different behaviours, signs, and feelings such as:
Feeling: worthless, hopeless, moody, guilty or helpless. Behaviours: tearful, irritable, withdrawn, avoiding friends and family, lack of interest in appearance, difficulty in concentrating.
Thoughts: ‘I don’t deserve any help’, ‘what’s the point?’ Dismissing the positives, negative thinking patterns, including not wanting to live anymore.
Physical signs: tired, eating changes, changes in sleep pattern, aches & pains, slowing of speech.
Encourage your child to exercise regularly and keep an eye on diet, avoiding sugary/fatty foods and stimulants.
Gently encourage your child to continue to do activities previously enjoyed - even if the enjoyment has lessened.
Try to identify any factors that may be contributing to your child’s low mood such as environmental issues, age-related physical illness, friendship issues, etc.
Help your child to identify a trustworthy adult to talk to.
Help your child to identify and access a safe place.
Encourage your child to be around people who are caring and positive. Both negative and positive thoughts are contagious.
How to help if your child is experiencing problems sleeping
How much sleep does a child need?
All children are different, but generally each night:
Children aged 3-5 need 11-12 hours
Children aged 6-11 need 10-11 hours
Teenagers need 9-10 hours.
How you can support your child
Make sure your child is comfortable. Not too hot, not too cold. Make sure the room is not too noisy or bright.
Establish a good bedtime routine. For example a warm drink, a warm bath, bedtime story and say goodnight. Aim to get up and go to bed at the same time every day.
Encourage your child to do some exercise particularly late afternoon or early evening, but not late in the evening to avoid overstimulation.
Help your child to relax before bed - reading a book, listening to music.
Why do children experience sleep problems?
There can be different reasons:
Bedtime fears - many young children are afraid of the dark or being left alone.
Bad habits - such as napping too much during the day, eating a poor diet, use of electronic devices before bedtime or
Anxiety, low mood or depression
A chemical imbalance in the brain.
Nightmares, sleepwalking, night terrors or insomnia
Things to consider:
Avoid going without sleep for a long period of time.
Encourage your child not to have too much caffeine or sugar in his/her diet.
Encourage your family to have supper early in the evening rather than late.
Don't allow your child to lie in for too long. After a bad night, don't let your child sleep in the next day, this will just make it harder to get to sleep the following night.
Don’t allow your child to play computer games or overuse phones and other devices close to bedtime. Screen time may help with boredom, but it can make it harder to get to sleep as the mind is stimulated. Stop a couple of hours before it's time to sleep.
Monitor your child's general online activity—including the types of games he/she is playing online and social media use couple of hours before it's time to sleep.
How to help if your child is experiencing trauma
What causes Trauma?
Trauma is a reaction to the experience of events involving threat or danger to yourself or others. Personal experience can cause this, or sometimes through witnessing or hearing about terrible events that have happened to others. Children and young people sometimes witness or are involved in things they find very scary or stressful such as accidents, violence or terrorist attacks. It’s quite normal to be upset for even quite a while after a frightening event. Trauma has been described as ‘normal reactions to extraordinary events’, If reactions continue for over three months, then it may be necessary to explore professional support.
What you might see in your child
Your child may display or experience different behaviours, signs and feelings, including:
Nightmares or sleeping problems
Hyper-vigilance - a state of increased awareness
Continuous minor physical complaints such as stomach aches or headaches
Unusual and untypical behaviour
Feeling angry, sad, guilty confused or any combination of feelings
How can you support your child?
Try and make things as normal as possible - your child will feel safer when he/she is reassured and knows what to expect.
Help your child to understand what’s happening by explaining the truth, giving facts about the situation.
Make sure your child understands you are available to talk when he/she is ready, don’t avoid the subject.
Your child may find using dolls, toys, or even drawing pictures helpful to understand what’s happened.
Answer questions truthfully, but keep them simple. Your child may ask questions several times, which could be his/her own way of accepting what’s happened.
If someone has died, make sure your child understands what this means, that it is permanent.
Avoid statements such as ‘David has gone away’, instead, say, ‘David has died and keep repeating if necessary, if your child keeps asking about the person.