Mental health interventions in schools – In ? Out? Shake it all about!

In my last post, I focussed on the complexity of dealing with mental health issues in schools. They often require a multi-disciplinary team to intervene and work with the child, school and parent. While complicated and at times cumbersome, this approach is critical to ensure an impactful and sustainable solution is found for the child.

Many Head teachers and teachers tell me that they have a sense of trepidation in dealing with these situations, and who can blame them? They are all too aware of the positive impact these interventions can have but also that they require a lot of resource, support and parental co-operation to be effective. This of course is all happening against the backdrop of running schools and dealing with countless other priorities!

Of course, where mental health issues have escalated there is no question that the help of external experts and agencies is critical. So it is our view that OUTside intervention is definitely required when the issues have manifested in real concerns for a child.

However, what about prevention? Does that require OUTside intervention in the same way or is this something that can be led from INside schools?

I believe that when it comes to instilling positive, healthy habits around mental wellbeing teachers, teaching assistants and the whole school community are best placed to deliver this. I worry that, because of the ‘fear’ that some have around dealing with mental health issues they avoid the prevention work too. Inevitably a stigma has developed around mental health and some schools leaders have told me they and their staff just don’t feel equipped to deal with them.

The reality is that creating positive mental wellbeing habits can be simple, fun and fast! With the right frameworks and structures in place teaching children these habits is pretty straightforward.

My assertion is not just that teachers ‘CAN’ bring these skills to life in the classroom, it is that teachers ‘SHOULD’ bring these skills to life.   There is no one better in fact than teachers who have positive relationships with both the children and the families to be instilling these skills in children.

So, yes we need OUTside intervention in schools when issues have reached a tipping point but INside intervention from teachers and staff plays a critical role in prevention. In time, we hope an investment in prevention will create a decline in the incidence of mental health issues and create happier more resilient and balanced children too.

So it’s not just about OUTside intervention or just about INside intervention. We believe it’s about In, Out and Shaking it all about!

I’d love to hear your thoughts, comments and stories – tell us what you think!