Health & Wellbeing
COVID-19: Wellbeing Support and Resources
We have collated a selection of up-to-date information and resources designed to support young people and their families during the current pandemic and beyond. The latest information can be accessed via the wellbeing resources file below.
For further information about the measures currently in place at Beacon Academy, please visit our COVID-19 Information page.
What do we mean when we talk about “mental health”?
“Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social wellbeing. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood.” Mentalhealth.gov
At Beacon Academy, we are dedicated to promoting positive mental health and destigmatising mental health issues. We seek to promote positive aspects of physical, mental and social health through a variety of ways, such as Physical Education lessons, sports clubs, tutor time sessions, assemblies and events, Food Technology lessons, Student Ambassador and Leadership Pathway programmes. A number of examples are outlined below:
As part of our structured Year 6 into Year 7 transition programme, Year 7 students take part in a resilience training package called Smart Moves. Through this programme, young people learn small learnable skills (Smart Moves) that increase resilience. Students complete sessions in tutor time with the tutor acting as the “facilitator” and the students solving each other’s problems. This reinforces the idea that they may face all share similar concerns, the understanding that everyone needs some support at one time or another and that they can also all offer support at one time or another. Sessions within the programme focus on; sleep, mindfulness, qualities of a good friend, who can support me?, boundaries, peer-pressure and relaxation.
Students in Years 7 and 10 take part in sessions with specialist training provider, Resilient Me. These training sessions help prepare our young people to recognise and deal with life’s stresses effectively. The workshops for students are designed to build their confidence, inspire them to succeed and equip them with the tools to do so. Year 7 take part in Resilience Workshops, and Year 10 attend Study Wise Workshops to support their introduction to exam courses, learning and developing strategies for managing all aspects of school work. At evening seminars, parents are presented with an opportunity to discover how they can better support their child’s learning, particularly in the run up to exams, and gain a valuable insight into the techniques and skills being presented to our students in preparation for the exam courses ahead.
A wellbeing group now runs for select Key Stage 4 students. Over a 7-week programme, the group focus on a different topic each week, including; what is anxiety, you are not alone, challenging thoughts, making changes, positive emotions and gratitude.
Students and staff also regularly participate in national events to raise awareness of health and wellbeing, such as Time to Talk Day where activities are delivered throughout the week during tutor time to address worries, ways of coping and who to go to for help and support.
- There are also a number of displays across the Academy promoting positive physical, mental and social health; they give students strategies for dealing with these and information, advice and guidance about where and how to access help and support. These are updated regularly to promote a number of key issues linked to wellbeing throughout the year.
Further examples are outlined below:
- A Mental Health Audit of the school has been created; this is regularly updated to ensure provision is of a high quality.
- A safe and calm environment is promoted across the school alongside activities and programmes to develop resilience within students. The ‘Smart Moves’ programmes is part of the tutor curriculum within Year 7 in order to support with their transition from Year 6.
- Independent charity, Clued-Up Info, supports students with regular, weekly one-to-one counselling sessions that are bookable via our Student Support team.
- Local support organisation, Listen Hear visit Beacon Academy on a weekly basis, offering support to students in KS3 and KS4 referred by our Student Support team.
- Michelle Bowman is our health professional at the Sixth Form centre along with other staff, at main site this is run by Dee Longhurst.
- During the formal examination period, we provide dog therapy for Year 11 students to relieve stress. During this period, free exam breakfasts are provided for Year 11 students every day that there is a morning exam.
- The Student Support Quiet Room is currently used for quiet study for students of all year groups or if they are feeling vulnerable for whatever reason.
- Student mentoring for students in KS3 – this is provided by students in Year 9, 10 and the Sixth Form.
- A Horticultural Club has been developed to support students who may struggle with stress and anxiety.
- All students have access to a wellbeing button on their desktops; this enables students to ask for help even if they are unable to do this face to face. A MHFA will then follow this up. This was created by our Student Leadership Team with support from the student body.
- Students are well informed of the precautions they must take to maintain good mental health whilst using social media and communicating online due to the effective teaching about the potential risks via assemblies, our E-Safety page on our website, the tutor resource programme and within lessons.
- Students are supported well through the provision of a large professional, caring and highly effective pastoral team, which include the Learning Development Department (LD/SENDCo) who work alongside external agencies to prevent, identify and support poor mental health.
- Students with SEN and/or PP are supported effectively in their mental health and wellbeing by their respective departments.
- Regular staff and student surveys are taken to monitor mental health and emotional wellbeing.
- Lessons are taught in Personal Development to encourage and sustain positive mental health and what to do if you are worried that yourself or another person may be suffering from poor mental health.
The World Health Organisation describes positive mental health as, “A state of wellbeing in which every individual realises his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.”
Positive mental health allows people to live a well-balanced life; to feel, cope, and express themselves freely. Resilience is a key part of this.
At Beacon Academy, students are encouraged to support their own positive mental health by developing strategies to enable them to cope with the challenges and responsibilities they will face as they grow up and in adulthood.
One of the key strategies we teach students is to learn to recognise and challenge negative thought patterns such as:
- Jumping to conclusions and thinking you know a situation before it happens.
- Filtering your thoughts and only paying attention to the negatives while ignoring the positives.
- Taking the blame for problems even when you are not responsible.
- Placing the blame for problems onto others even when you know you are responsible.
- Concluding that one bad incident will lead to a repeated pattern of the same again.
- Assuming your negative emotions are reality, or confusing feelings with facts.
There are a number of ways that our students can access support as outlined in the following section.
How to get help in school
Supporting the wellbeing of all students is paramount at Beacon Academy. This is reflected in the number of Designated Safeguarding Leads (DSL) and Student Support staff employed at our school. Every Tuesday, students may drop in to see the school nurse. In addition to this, we are immensely proud that a total of twelve members of staff across both sites are fully trained Mental Health First Aiders (MHFA).
Through MHFA training, our staff are equipped with the skills they need to support our students’ wellbeing, enabling them to notice signs of mental ill health, and empowering them to break down barriers and listen in a non-judgmental way. They are also skilled at signposting the support needed for recovery. Students are welcome to speak directly with these staff or any other staff member if they would like support or have concerns about a friend. Our Mental Health First Aiders all wear the MHFA badge designed by a Year 11 student.
Support from our Mental Health First Aiders is now even more accessible to students via a new desktop icon. Any student wishing to talk to a Mental Health First Aider can send an alert via the desktop icon, which will go directly to a MHFA mailbox, to be dealt with by the appropriate members of staff on a rota basis. There is an additional computer for students to access in the Library if they wish to contact a MHFA privately.
In October 2019 we launched our new Wellbeing Room, a space dedicated to allowing students to relax and talk privately to our Mental Health First Aiders, if they wish.
Further information for parents
How do I know whether my child is depressed or just sad?
It’s normal for everyone to have a low mood, anxieties or feel sad sometimes. It can be particularly noticeable in children who are experiencing typical, age-related mood variation. However, if your child is experiencing symptoms for two weeks or more, they could need further support. It is important to talk with their health care provider or school. Please contact the appropriate member of our Student Support team in the first instance.
Helping your child cope with low mood and anxieties
The following strategies could be used to help your child cope with low mood:
- Regularly let your child know that you are interested in how they are feeling and that you are available to talk. Just knowing that you care is helpful, even if they do not feel ready to talk to you straight away.
- Encourage your child to keep up with their daily activities, even for shorter periods of time. Help them to participate in activities that they enjoy and that help them relax. Staying busy and in touch with others that they trust is especially important.
- Sometimes children who are depressed can isolate themselves from their friends and family. Encourage them to choose a few people; peers, family members, teachers for example, that they can approach for support and be in touch with at least once a day.
- Encourage your child to get some form of exercise at least 3 to 4 times a week. Being active can help improve low mood. They should also be encouraged to eat regular healthy meals and snacks and keep to their usual sleep schedule. The recommended amount is 9 – 9.5 hours each night.
- Monitor what your child is viewing online. Anonymous “feedback” sites, such as Tellonym increase a child’s risk of cyber bullying. Talk with your child and encourage an open dialogue about what they have access to and what they engage with online.
- Suggest that your child keeps a journal. Writing about their feelings, drawing, and colouring are some ways that teens like to express themselves. Often being able to identify and express feelings will improve how your child feels.
- Mind map with your child about other strategies such as listening to music or cooking that could help them to cope with low mood and feelings of anxiousness. What works for them?
Further useful links for parents: