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C4 Module 4.4

Helping individual students

Before You Begin

If you are concerned about a student and need to have a conversation with them, what preparation and planning could you do to ensure the conversation goes well?

Having a conversation with a student you are concerned about can be difficult – ensuring you are prepared for the conversation can help improve the outcome.

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If you’re worried about a student – how do you talk to them about it?

Discussing concerns with students

If you have concerns about a student, it is important they are given the opportunity to have a conversation with an appropriate staff member. You need to consider who might be the best person to have the conversation – it may not be you.

The prospect of having a conversation with a student about their wellbeing can seem daunting. You may well worry that you’ll make things worse, or that the young person won’t want to talk about their problems. However, most young people report feeling relieved once they talk about their problems, and are grateful that someone cares enough to take the time and ask if they are OK.

Know your role

As a school staff member, you are in a unique and important position to notice changes in a young person, and to detect if they’re struggling with their thoughts, feelings and behaviours, and to facilitate support if needed.

It is important to remember however, that your expertise is in education and that you are not expected to be a mental health professional. Talking to a student about what might be going on for them does not mean that you have to have all the answers or the solution to their problem. It is not appropriate for you to diagnose, or seek to ‘treat’ mental health difficulties.

Preparation for conversations

Sometimes conversations about mental health issues happen incidentally, or are initiated by the students themselves. However, it is often the case that you and other school staff notice worrying changes in a student’s emotions, behaviours or thinking patterns and need to initiate a conversation with the student.

Either way, it is important that all staff are clear on school policies and procedures relating to concerns about student mental health and feel confident to have a conversation with a student if needed. Initiating a conversation with a student you are worried about, and asking if they are OK, can be the most significant thing you do for a young person. 

What two or three tips would you give a colleague if they had to have a conversation with a student they were concerned about?

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NEXT STEPS

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