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C4 Module 4.1

How schools help students

Before You Begin

How do you currently support students experiencing mental health difficulties within your everyday role at school?

Staff are able to make significant contributions to student mental health through their ‘everyday’ role and actions. List some of the ways in which you help with student mental health.

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School staff can significantly contribute to student mental health – but what does this mean in practice?

The extent of the mental health challenge

Schools today are grappling with a host of complex mental health and social issues such as anxiety, depression, self-harm, drug and alcohol abuse, bullying and violence.

While academic research has found strong links between student mental health and student behaviour, attendance and academic performance, these links are becoming more evident to school staff.

The critical role of school staff

Staff are in a powerful position to make a significant contribution to an individual student’s mental health and wellbeing. Due to their ongoing contact with students, school staff are well placed to recognise behaviours, emotions or thinking patterns of concern and support young people experiencing such difficulties to get help when needed and to remain engaged in their schooling.

While a successful whole-school mental health strategy relies on the actions of individuals throughout the school, impact is maximised when that action is coordinated through a clear, simple and usable set of policies and procedures.

Understanding boundaries and roles

The main role for school staff is to observe and support young people. General school staff do not need to be mental health experts or counsellors. When a general staff member recognises behaviours of concern they should discuss them with more experienced or specialist staff, who can then work with the student and family to clarify areas of concern and make decisions about possible referral options.

All schools will have their own procedures and policies for how staff should handle concerns.

What else could you do to support students experiencing mental health difficulties?

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