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FEATURE FOCUS: MENTAL HEALTH & WELLBEING


finding themselves in an unsupported position whereby the senior leadership team are not truly on board with the implementation of a whole school approach to mental health. Providing support for staff mental health does


not need to be a costly or create additional work for educational staff. The following strategies have been implemented within schools across the UK and have had an impact on HR spend, staff wellbeing, retention rates and job satisfaction.


Audit A good starting position is to conduct an audit of current processes and systems that support staff's mental health and identify areas for improvement. Introducing aspects gradually into current systems will enable the school to develop a sustainable whole school approach to mental health, an approach that is supportive of educational staff’s mental health will enable staff and student lives to be shaped positively by every lesson.


Training Specific training on emotional and mental health difficulties makes a real difference to staff. They understand more about how the students and their colleagues feel and have strategies they can call on and this makes them more confident and willing to start up potentially difficult discussions with staff and students. Webinars and bite size training materials may prove useful for staff to access at home but there must also be opportunities for discussion and reflection.


Supervision and support In healthcare settings, clinical supervision is mandatory for all staff as it helps to ensure safe and ethical practice is delivered and staff have the opportunity to seek supervision from an


Indicators Distressing emotions Distressing thoughts Intrusive imagery Numb Somatic complaints Addictive or compulsive behaviours Physiological arousal Impairment of day-to-day functioning


experienced professional. However, access to clinical supervision can aid professional development and also support the teachers’ mental health. Great Barr Academy received input from a


clinical psychologist one day a week, and this included training for staff on trauma, attachment disorders and post -traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Having access to a clinician has enabled staff to implement their training and reflect upon their experiences.


Reflective practice It is important that educational staff can engage in reflective practice to learn from experiences and develop self-awareness. Due to the day to day pressures and busy schedules, educational staff do not have protected time to stop and reflect upon their teaching practices, engagement with students and staff. Reflective practice does not come easily and we


have found that some educational staff are reluctant at first: 'I was hesitant to partake as the sessions took me away from class and children’s learning but as the weeks went by it was great to embrace the moment and have time to talk and share solutions to problems together without being pressured or rushed. This model of reflection can be a helpful starting point for educational staff as they can see the structure and questions that will be asked. It is important that everyone views reflective practice as a non- blaming practice that is aiding lifelong learning and supporting everyone’s’ mental health.'


How one trust is supporting its staff Orchard Hill College & Academy Trust (OHCAT) is an academy sponsor of 15 Special Education Need (SEN) schools and academies in London, Surrey and Sussex.


Symptoms


Sadness or grief, depression, anxiety, fear, rage, shame, fatigue, disillusionment, worthlessness, anger, hopelessness, despair


Thinking that you are not doing enough for the students, intrusive thoughts of students’ trauma, blaming others, recurring thoughts, racing thoughts


Nightmares, flashback of images generated during and following the client’s recounting of traumatic events


Emotional distancing, wanting to keep away from others, avoiding activities Sleep difficulty/disturbances, headaches, stomach pains, heart palpitations, colds, flu Substance abuse, workaholism, compulsive eating Exaggerated startle response, hypervigilance, startled by noise


Absenteeism, chronic lateness, poor work performace, decreased ability to engage in self-care behaviours, feelings of isolation, alienation, inablity to concentrate/focus, trust difficulties


30 www.education-today.co.uk September 2020 OHCAT are using their safeguarding and well-


being forum to bring together the academy’s strategy on mental health. The staff have access to an occupational health practitioner, support from different areas of the trust, and staff come together to learn from each other using the principles from reflective practice and solution focused approaches. They are using EduPod from Innovating Minds


which contains a self-assessment tool that lets schools audit their provision, gather key statistics and evidence, create action plans and measure impact. EduPod will support the team to monitor and review the strategy by using the data collected from the self-assessment audit tool and surveys. The results dashboard has easy to read graphs


so staff can see at a glance whether different interventions are bringing results. There is also a library of hundreds of professional, practical resources that centres can share with staff. These have been written by professionals so schools and other settings can be confident that they have expert, up to the minute advice. The key advantage for OHCAT is that EduPod is


not just a reflection of the perspectives of senior leaders. It brings together the views of young people, parents, carers and governors through pre-generated surveys. Senior leadership teams are now assured that


their staff can access reflective practice, training and supervision and that this will support their staff’s mental health and equip them to assist with the emotional and mental health needs of their students.


uFor more information on EduPod and a range of mental health topics, go to https://www.innovatingmindscic.com/


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