Working with partner agencies to access Mental Health Support across Brooke Weston Trust
At Brooke Weston Trust we recognise that positive mental health and wellbeing is fundamental to achieving positive outcomes and helping our children and young people to develop and thrive. However, we also recognise that life has a tendency to present us with a range of challenges and adversity along the way, which can weigh heavily on our emotional health.
At a time when Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services are under increasing pressure, we are committed to doing all that we can to provide the highest levels of support to our children and young people, building resilience through our curriculum, providing support through a range of early intervention and working with partner agencies to source and secure specialist intervention for children in the greatest need.
Over the last 18 months, our schools have been accessing a range of training in relation to mental health and wellbeing. This has included training a Mental Health Lead in each of our schools, with pastoral staff completing an array of specialist training on subjects such as anxiety, trauma, self-harm and suicide prevention. A number of our schools were also successful in their application to be part of local Mental Health Support Teams.
In a Government Green Paper called ‘Transforming children and young people’s mental health provision’ published in December 2017, fresh ambitions were announced to create a network of support for children in their educational settings.
In May 2022, the ‘Mental Health in Schools’ programme was launched, providing eligible schools with teams of Mental Health Practitioners to deliver evidence-based interventions for mild to moderate mental health issues. These are known as the Mental Health Support Teams (or ‘MHST’).
Sarah Fleming, our Trust Primary Safeguarding advisor (and DSL for Beanfield Primary School in Corby) explained more about the significance of the MHST support and how Beanfield Primary is accessing it:
“We recognise the significance of maintaining good mental health for our young people, their education and wellbeing. Cases of poor mental health amongst and student and staff community have grown exponentially, so we have been steadily increasing the support available, with each of our schools having received additional mental health and wellbeing guidance (where required) and we have also applied for access to the Mental Health Support Team (MHST) programme.”
Beanfield Primary is one such eligible school and the Mental Health Support Teams have been working with the school since September, in three ways:
- Delivering evidence-based interventions for mild-to-moderate mental health issues
- Supporting the senior mental health lead to develop a whole school approach
- Giving advice to school staff to help children to get the right support and remain in education
The MHST have undertaken an audit of the whole school, talking to children, parents and staff and collating all of their findings, so that Sarah and her team can develop a customised and local plan to support the mental health of pupils.
Sarah said “What’s great about the MHST is that they can identify where we need to apply resource to establish early intervention. Where we know individual students have particular anxieties and issues, we can put interventions into place before the issues become acute; our impact is so much more effective and better targeted in this way.”
The MHST practitioners have been working directly with children at the school, whom Sarah has identified, over six to eight face-to-face sessions. Parents and staff are involved in the sessions, so it’s a comprehensive and collaborative approach, using specialists in their field.
“It is proving to be an extremely positive resource for us and I’m looking forward to getting the results of the audit so that we can plan our next steps, in an informed way and using the whole school approach” concluded Sarah.
Kate Jeyes is Vice Principal of Brooke Weston Academy and Secondary Safeguarding Advisor for the Trust. She too, was keenly aware that a more rigorous and holistic review of the needs of the school community was required. It has proved crucial in identifying the right support required and making it available in a timely manner.
Kate said: “The process of applying for the MHST programme was both collaborative and thorough. It involved auditing our current provision, listening to all members of the school community and developing an action plan to help us with:
- Our policies and procedures
- Identifying areas of need
- Targeted interventions
“Thanks to the success of our work with MHST, other secondary schools in the Trust have been able to successfully apply to be part of this work.
“I am really pleased that all the local secondary schools within our Trust are now part of this programme and that Brooke Weston Academy is to become the local hub for the MHST. I am excited about the future collaboration between the MHST and the Trust” she added.
James Down, Head of Safeguarding at Brooke Weston Trust enthused about his aspirations for the Trust’s new Mental Health Strategy for children and young people:
“We have recently established a Mental Health Working Group, comprised of representatives across the Trust, who have been working on the development of a draft ‘Children and Young People’s Mental Health Strategy’. The Strategy aims to support our academies to further enhance their existing whole-school approach to student mental health, and is underpinned by a desire to ensure that all children across the Trust:
- Feel safe
- Feel valued and have a sense of belonging
- Are able to communicate with trusted adults, feel listened to and talk about their emotions
- Experience environments where positive mental health is promoted and challenges are supported
James continued: “We look forward to engaging with children and young people across the Trust this year, to ensure that the strategy truly responds to their needs. We are also excited to be planning our own Mental Health and Wellbeing Conference for educational professionals from across the education sector, during the 2023-2024 academic year.”
The government expects approximately 500 Mental Health Support Teams to be up and running nationally, by 2024 and we at Brooke Weston Trust, will continue our endeavour to support each and every member of our Trust community, including our wonderful staff, who have such an impact on our students every day.
Click here to find out how we’re taking proactive steps to support the wellbeing of our staff: https://www.brookewestontrust.org/news/?pid=9&nid=22&storyid=1691