The Optimus blog

The blog that inspires leaders in the UK education sector

The Optimus blog

The blog that inspires leaders in the UK education sector

Tom Kerslake

Promoting positive pupil mental health in schools

We are approaching the eighth instalment of our annual Promoting Positive Mental Health in Schools conference. As well as being one of our most popular and well-received conferences, this year it comes at a time of a growing interest in mental health – particularly in schools. We’re aiming to make the conference our most informative and useful yet, as the task of ensuring good pupil mental health is becoming increasingly challenging for schools.

School responsibilities (and how we can help)

External healthcare provision is being stretched thin and teachers are more likely to experience delays in their referrals than ever before. As a result, schools must be prepared to provide support for their pupils with mental health needs – and this means increased responsibility for SENCOs and school leaders. The Promoting Positive Mental Health in Schools conference will cover the following topics:

  • How the CAMHS referral process works and how to effectively submit a referral.
  • How to confidently carry out in-school support – not just in identifying the warning signs, but also being equipped with the medical knowledge to provide specific treatment to pupils.
  • Dealing with issues such as exam stress, body image, low self-esteem and more in school.
  • Procedures for dealing with difficult specific cases such as self-harm and depression in school.
  • Promoting an up-to-date knowledge of mental health research and clinical good practice.

We will be teaming up with Place2Be, YoungMinds and CYPMHC (Children & Young People’s Mental Health Coalition) and drawing on their expertise to deliver targeted, useful information to all our delegates and attendees. A key focus for us this year was to get a range of health professionals in to provide their knowledge and personal insight on the field of clinical practice. We will be welcoming speakers from our conference partners, as well as school leaders, NHS practitioners, healthcare academics and researchers – a real mix!

A troubled situation for CAMHS

Few would dispute that pupil wellbeing should be at the core of the modern education system, and we all know that teachers look to do the very best for their pupils. Of course, teachers have access to external services to help deal with pupil mental health needs – the most prominent being CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services). However, some may overestimate the capability of these organisations to effectively deal with every case they receive. According to YoungMinds, the number of children and young people diagnosed with mental health disorders has increased by a staggering 68% over the last ten years. To compound this worrying figure, CAMHS has struggled to operate efficiently following a substantial cut in government funding. Some of the organisation’s difficulties can be evidenced by a recent report from the Health Select Committee revealing a lack of reliable information on referrals.

Stressful environments

In today’s pressurised, results-driven school environments young people are increasingly prone to stress-related illness, with the latest estimate that 1 in 10 children between the age of 5 and 16 have a mental disorder. The reality is that this is an issue that can affect all pupils, not just those from disadvantaged backgrounds. Worse still is the knock-on effect this can have on teachers, with a TSN (Teacher Support Network) survey finding that two-thirds of its participants were stressed from a perceived deterioration in pupil behaviour. It is essential that schools are prepared to play a bigger role in promoting good pupil mental health – this will result in a healthier, happier learning environment for everybody. We hope you consider joining us for what should be a fantastically informative day!

Find out more about the Optimus Education Promoting Positive Mental Health in Schools conference and register to attend.

Optimus Education has a number of resources that provide expert guidance to support mental health professionals in school which you may find useful.

You will need to log in to access the pieces below but if your school or setting does not have a membership then simply take out a free trial to read for free (use the code: MHConf)


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