Train all school staff in mental health awareness to help pupils cope with rising levels of ill-health – RSA
On Monday 8th October the RSA launched the report: A Whole School Approach to Mental Health at an event, with speakers including Dr Marc Bush, director of evidence and policy at Young Minds, and Dr Polly Casey, research fellow at UCL.
Funded by the Pears Foundation, the report explores the impact of providing mental health support training to teaching and non-teaching staff in seven schools, including six RSA academies.
A whole-school approach, which could include non-teaching staff such as lunchtime assistants who can often spot what is going on outside the classroom, can help build a culture in which any pupil can turn to any adult for support, the RSA report concludes.
An independent evaluation of the programme by the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families, based on pre-training and post-training surveys, found:
- all participating staff reported significantly greater awareness and literacy around pupils’ mental health, greater confidence in talking about and responding to mental health problems, which all increased by around 13%
- there was a 53% increase in ‘staff supportive behaviours’, meaning that all of the positive outcomes anticipated from the impact of the programme did occur.
Tom Harrison, report co-author and researcher at the RSA, said:
“Our study uncovered growing concern about the impact of cuts to support services and heightened thresholds for mental health services amongst schools staff – in fact, alongside the impact that social media and cyber-bullying is having on young peoples’ wellbeing, this was the most important issue raised by staff in schools participating in the research.
“Despite strains on capacity for staff in schools, we found clear benefits from having a ‘whole school’ approach to mental health training, including a much better culture of openness and breaking the taboo of mental ill-health – and not just for pupils.
“Likewise, non-teaching staff can often be the first to spot what’s going on outside the classroom and can benefit from training to spot signs of pupils’ mental ill-health and make appropriate referrals. And often pupils will feel more comfortable talking about their mental health to a non-teaching member of staff.
You can enjoy a replay of the live event below too.