After the Storm
It is not just the weather that’s been stormy, and although the winds are calming, at least for now and power is being restored, there’s still a lot of clearing up to do. This may describe events post Storm Eunice – but it could be said to describe this phase of the pandemic.
Feeling unsettled has been a common emotion during the last two years. Schools are generally good at doing whatever is needed to keep the show on the road, but when almost every day requires adjustments and rethinks, it takes its toll. A recent online conference organised by EACT and TES, Making mental health part of our everyday conversations looked at ways we might reposition the mental health and wellbeing of all students and staff in school. These are some of the words that were repeated during the day: relationships, trust, nurture, experience, and belonging. They sum up what a number of researchers say is needed to help us recover from the experience of the last two years. We know that the prevalence of mental health disorders has risen to 1 in 6 of 6 to 16-year-olds. It is unlikely these problems will be transitory, and we know that mental health services such as CAMHS do not have the capacity to meet demand.
The positive message from the conference was ‘there are things we can do’. We can reposition our focus in school onto supporting children and young people to feel connected and not isolated. By working to build trusting relationships between staff and students and between students themselves, we can go some way to help build individual resilience. One of the findings coming out of research undertaken since the start of the pandemic is that those children and young people who managed best were those that had secure attachments, that is, positive and strong relationships. Those that struggled most were the most vulnerable.
As we begin to lift restrictions it is important for every school to reflect on what they are doing to put positive relationships at the centre of their work. If we’ve learned anything in these last two years it has to be that we are stronger when we work together.
A whole-school approach to mental health and wellbeing.
Emerging Evidence: Coronavirus and children and young people’s mental health
Mental Health of Children and Young People in England 2021-wave 2 follow up to the 2017 survey.
Well at School Team Feb 2022