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FEATURE FOCUS: MENTAL HEALTH & WELLBEING


How can schools promote positive mental health?


gap, restricted social interactions, safeguarding and health concerns. In our third feature this month looking at mental health and wellbeing, Learning & Development Analyst at High Speed Training, Catherine Talbot, discusses how to promote positive mental health and a nurturing culture within schools. She looks into how teachers and learning professionals can best prepare themselves for difficult waters ahead, and feel confident in their ability to provide pastoral care to the utmost standards. Young people’s mental health is


F


ollowing an extended period spent in lockdown, and consequently out of a


structured form of education, the mental health and wellbeing of pupils in the UK is now more of a concern than ever. In addition to the ongoing issues that are known to have a big impact on mental health, such as the negative attributes of social media, this year has brought with it an abundance of new threats and challenges that young people are trying to navigate, such as the recent exam grade scandal and attainment


something that should be taken extremely seriously. The NSPCC reported that in 2017 more than 3,000 counselling sessions had been taken by young people because of exam stress alone. We predict that this number will be much higher in future given the unique pressures that young people today have faced as a result of the pandemic. With demand on services already at a pressure point, schools must be thinking ahead and gearing up to ensure their staff feel confident in their ability to deliver the very best pastoral care for students. Above anything else, showing an


understanding of the issues that young people face is imperative to creating a comfortable and safe learning environment. There are a number of factors that


32 www.education-today.co.uk September 2020


contribute to poor mental health that vary across different year groups, however teachers should consider taking a moment to reflect on how they would feel with the pressures of; exams, especially if in a new format due to COVID-19; the increased time learning online, which brings with it not only a requirement to understand potentially new technology but also safeguarding concerns and the possibility of them being exposed to upsetting content; the growing popularity of social media and reduced human interaction amongst friends, coupled with the


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