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Mental health: a service model of understanding
Little boy crying
There are three basic areas of dealing with students with mental health needs and their families:
  • Evidence-based clinical practice;
  • Research and policy development;
  • Continued professional development.
Mental health promotion in schools

Schools can also engage in early identification, provide preventative interventions and support intensive care and intervention plans.

Teachers are uniquely placed to influence the mental health of children and young people.

Young Minds, 1996
Mental health promotion in schools: what needs to be addressed?
  • All schools have a vital role to play in the promotion of children’s health, especially mental health;
  • Schools also have a vital role to play in the identification and treatment of mental health problems in children;
  • Schools must acknowledge there is high risk of developing a mental health problem among children with special needs.
Promotion in schools matters

Promoting children's mental health within schools has important educational payoffs.

DfE, 2001

The DfE and Mental Health Foundation (UK) note that schools should promote children’s mental well-being by means of the following characteristics:

  • A committed senior management team;
  • A culture which values teachers and all those involved in the educational system;
  • Whole-school policies for significant issues (behaviour management and bullying).
The four levels of Atkinson and Hornby's model
  • School ethos: values shared by all staff and pupils;
  • Whole-school organisation: a range of school policies;
  • Pastoral provision: procedures in place throughout the school;
  • Classroom practice: practical strategies used by teachers.
Promoting mental health
in schools

There are a number of key issues, including:

  • Are staff aware of their responsibility for mental health promotion and prevention of problems?
  • Are there policies and procedures for addressing mental health issues?
  • Are there procedures for early identification and assessment?
  • The importance of encouraging collaboration with parents and outside agencies.
  • The importance of early intervention. Raising awareness is a critical element.
The Healthy Minds Report (1)
The 2005 report, Healthy Minds: Promoting Emotional Health and Well-being in Schools, was based on evidence gathered by HM Inspectorate of Education involving 72 schools across the UK, and examining DfES guidance to schools concerning meeting the mental health needs of students.

It was discovered that there was a major barrier to success, and that this was the low level of awareness of the importance of the issue of mental health.

In three out of four schools, training for staff on mental health difficulties was needed. And only one in three schools showed good practice.
The Healthy Minds Report (2)

Findings from the report show the following:

  • The importance of valuing and respecting every individual;
  • Effective whole-school approaches to eradicate bullying reduced risk of developing mental health problems;
  • Few schools used national guidance to plan and provide support;
  • Partnerships with external agencies was especially strong for special schools;
  • Whole-school initiatives were more successful in special schools and primary schools;
  • Family involvement: parenting classes and home visits worked well and facilitated open communication;
  • Access to specialist services was often problematic.


For your consideration
Teacher with little girl

Does your school have a 'whole-school' policy on emotional well-being?

Think about the factors discussed in this package and how they could be incorporated into your school policy.

Are there other factors that you think would be useful, from a policy perspective?