The Good Childhood Report (Oct 2020) undertaken by the Children’s Society, reports on the level of ‘subjective wellbeing’ and happiness for children and young people. It draws on a wide range of sources including its own consultations with young people aged 8 to 19 and the OECD PISA data which covers over 600,000 15 years olds, across many countries, worldwide.
- By the age of 15 young people in the UK are ranked ‘the lowest for having a sense of purpose in life’ and are the ‘least satisfied with their lives’, compared to 23 European countries.
Whilst reported levels of happiness and subjective wellbeing are fairly constant in relation to ‘family’ and ‘school work’ contexts for both boys and girls, the trend is significantly down in terms of happiness with ‘friends’, ‘appearance’ and ‘school’.
- The GCR (20) describes the coming year (20/21) as ‘like no other’, so supporting the wellbeing of children and young people is likely to be even more challenging and never so important.
- All staff care deeply about the welfare of students in their care and work extremely hard, with limited resources to do the best they can.
The hardest part sometimes can be to step back from the day to day operational issues relating to support for students and try to take a more strategic view based on good quality local data and evidence.
It can be hard to know ‘What to do first?’, ‘Who can help?’, ‘What will success look like?’ and ‘How can get parents more involved?’ All organisations have their own specific questions, strengths and pressure points, and are at different stages in terms of providing whole school or college approaches to support student wellbeing.
What could your next steps be?
- Perhaps your starting point is to conduct a thorough self-assessment, needs analysis and action plan, in which case the School Mental Health Award may be helpful.
- The importance of a senior leader with overall responsibility for mental health and wellbeing cannot be understated. They help to set the culture within the organisation, oversee the policies and practices, make decisions about resources, staff utilisation and other priorities. Minds Ahead, in partnership with Leeds Beckett University offer a Masters in Leading School Mental Health to support individuals in this role to make evidence based change whilst developing their own knowledge and leadership. Find out more about this course here.
- Alongside the Senior Lead for Mental Health, most schools and colleges will have a person at practitioner level who supports students directly with counselling-style interventions, conversations and support and guidance. This person may also be a source of advice for other staff, may lead interactions with parents, carers and other stakeholders. Minds Ahead offers a range of short courses for such people and from September 2021, will be running a Post Graduate Diploma course called ‘School Mental Health Specialist’ awarded by Leeds Beckett University. Find out more about this course here.