We all have mental health in the same way that we all have physical health. Throughout our lives our physical and mental health may fluctuate. Sometimes we feel fit and healthy, and at other times we may feel unwell, tired, stressed or anxious. Just as small changes like regular exercise and a healthy diet can have a positive impact on our physical health, so small changes can also positively impact our mental health.

A recent NHS survey (Mental Health of Children & Young People, 2017) shows a rise in anxiety and depression in children aged 5-15. Consequently, schools are now expected to have a member of staff overseeing mental health support. At Layston we aim to teach both children and adults how to make healthy choices to promote better mental health and to support the access of mental health professionals when people are struggling.

In order to be mentally healthy we need:

  • the ability and desire to learn (not just in school but throughout life);
  • the ability to feel, express and manage a range of positive and negative emotions (being able to explain what you feel and think);
  • the ability to form and maintain good relationships with others (having a support network of friends and/or family around us);
  • the ability to cope with change and uncertainty (this is often referred to as ‘resilience’ which is our ability to bounce back after difficulties).

At Layston we teach wellbeing and positive mental health through:

  • a whole school approach to nurture and therapeutic responses to behaviour (through Hertfordshire Steps and our nurture training);
  • consistently applying the school ethos and mission statement as well as policies;
  • supporting children develop and maintain healthy relationships with themselves, peers and adults through our PSHRE curriculum (see PSHRE policy);
  • promoting the key learning behaviours of resilience, resourcefulness, reflectiveness and reciprocity through our growth mindset (see Parental Engagement section of website);
  • providing consistency, safety, warmth, and humour within school;
  • openly talking about mental as well as physical health and investing in staff training;
  • Promoting the ‘5 Ways to wellbeing’.

This all fits in with our Christian Ethos of nurturing and supporting each other to enable each of us to shine.

Sometimes, we may experience poor mental health to the point where these small changes may not be enough and we need professional help. Susie Betley has attended the Mental Health Lead training as well as the two-day Mental Health First Aid training. Mental Health Leads in schools are NOT mental health professionals but have had training in how to support in a crisis and how to access mental health professionals when needed. If you or your child are struggling you should contact your GP, as well as feeling able to approach school for support. Please phone the office 01763 271235 to make an appointment to speak to Susie or approach her at the end of the school day to arrange a time.