Schools given guidance packs to support pupils’ mental health after lockdown

East Bergholt Primary School pupils have been learning outside under canvas, in two large tipis put

East Bergholt Primary School pupils have been learning outside under canvas, in two large tipis put up to create extra learning space and help social distance Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND - Credit: Charlotte Bond

Mental health experts in Suffolk have produced a support pack for schools to help anxious pupils through their return from coronavirus lockdown.

Dr Beth Mosley from NSFT said schools and teachers had an important role to play in helping youngste

Dr Beth Mosley from NSFT said schools and teachers had an important role to play in helping youngsters understand their own worries about the coronavirus situation and the changes it has brought. Picture: NHS - Credit: NHS

The Psychology in Schools Team is a pilot project by Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust operating in west Suffolk to give additional support, guidance and training for school staff.

With reception, year one and year six pupils returning to schools from this week, the team has produced a support pack distributed to all schools in Suffolk and Norfolk with the aim of helping staff support pupils with their understanding of the crisis and understand their own mental health anxieties.

MORE: Follow the Facebook page here for latest coronavirus updates in SuffolkAccording to project leaders, it aims to help normalise youngsters’ fears, encourage them to express their anxieties, and support them to understand key behavioural changes social distancing brings.

Dr Beth Mosley, lead clinical psychologist, said: “Some young people and families are having a fairly okay time and benefitting from the extra time together whereas other families are finding it challenging for their mental health.

“Where young people might see a decline in their mental health it is about trying to make sense of it, and their own feeling of being quite isolated from quite important parts of their life like their social network.

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“To lose those really important professionals in their life like teachers, some haven’t had people to talk to outside their own home.”

She added: “Teachers have got a critical role in helping young people make sense of it, not live in fear of it.

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“If they don’t feel safe they are not going to be able to learn.”

The pack includes a back-to-school assembly plan, advice for staff, leadership team briefing documents and resources to help with the mental health impacts of Covid-19.

While the pilot works with four secondary schools in west Suffolk and the feeder primaries on a day-to-day level, the team has ensured the pack is available to all schools.

It has also handed the plan to the Department for Education and is hopeful it can also be distributed to other areas of the country which may need it.

As well as pupils in school, it can also help school staff checking in on youngsters who are still home learning.

MORE: Fewer schools and pupils return from coronavirus lockdown on June 1 than expectedThe Psychology in Schools pilot began last spring and is due to run for two years, with the hope that it could be rolled out further in Suffolk after those two years are up.

According to Dr Mosley, it aims to move away from a system where children need specialist support by helping schools spot the signs of anxieties earlier and have a series of measures they can use to help support those youngsters.

The longer term goal is to address problems sooner before mental health problems develop to be much more problematic, and require more or longer term work down the line.

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