Healthy Minds is a whole-school approach to emotional wellbeing, developed by Sheffield Children’s NHS FT Child and adolescent mental health service (CAMHS) in collaboration with Sheffield schools. Following the initial investment by NHS England and the Department for Education; it is now locally commissioned by Sheffield City Council and Sheffield NHS Clinical Commissioning Group and has reached two-thirds of the mainstream schools in Sheffield.
How is the project delivered?
Healthy Minds offers an integrated approach to mental health. It works on the principle that schools are in an excellent position to not just teach about mental health and signpost but to provide environments which enable children and young people to experience emotional wellbeing and thus build their emotional resilience.
How was a whole school approach to emotional wellbeing decided?
All participating schools carry out Healthy Minds Surveys in order to develop their bespoke action plan. The voices of over 20,000 children and young people, over 7,000 parents and carers and over 3,00 school staff have been collated from across the city. The overall response from children and young people when asked “what more they would like from their school to support their emotional wellbeing” was a school culture in which staff have the time to care, ask and listen.
The top five issues students report as having a significant impact on their emotional wellbeing were:
· friendship difficulties
· low mood
· academic pressure.
Healthy Minds used these findings to agree on the individual action plans for schools and develop further ways of working, some actions included:
· working with the specialist sleep clinic at Sheffield Children’s Hospital (SCH), MAST Parenting advisors and The Sleep Charity to develop training for school staff on sleep hygiene to enable them to support parents / carers and children
· developing whole-school approaches to supporting children and young people’s friendships
· development of sensory breaks to enable children and young people’s emotional regulation
· training in active listening skills for school staff.
Training for school staff:
Healthy Minds delivers whole school staff training which focuses on the core psychological processes which underpin children and young people’s learning and wellbeing:
· the importance of relationships
· emotional regulation
· brain development
· vulnerability and adverse childhood experiences
· whole school activities.
In an evaluation of these whole school staff training sessions:
· 96% of staff rated the training as relevant to their role
· 98% of staff rated it as excellent or very good
· 91% of staff stated that they would be confident utilising the strategies with vulnerable students.
A three-day Secure Attachment Focused Environments (SAFE) training event is delivered to key strategic lead school staff to develop their school’s whole-school approach to emotional wellbeing.
In an evaluation of SAFE training:
· 99% of staff stated that the information was presented coherently and at the right level
· 99% of staff were happy with the balance between information giving and discussion
· 100% of staff would recommend these sessions to colleagues.
Feedback indicates that the Healthy Minds model makes great sense to school staff who have then been able to utilise these principles across the school and develop further interventions and resources to better support children and young people, staff and parents. When schools address emotional wellbeing, they also provide the ideal conditions for the whole school community to engage in learning.
To find out more information about Healthy Minds visit here
Thank you to Zoe Brownlie from Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust for supplying the information on Healthy Minds to use in this article.