How do we help young people with mental health problems? This is a question which challenges schools every day and throughout the summer more and more disturbing headlines reporting on growing problems with self-harm, suicide and grooming whilst at the same time local children’s services are having their funding cut.
Whilst the reasons for declining mental health may be disputed (technology, screen use, on-line bullying, job insecurity, contagion) schools have a vital role to play in trying to arrest this decline and educate young people to feel empower and resilient enough to cope with every challenge and opportunity which exists.
Since its foundation as a non-conformist school in 1847, Taunton School has always been proud to approach issues in an open and innovative manner and this September every senior school teacher was trained to become a Youth Mental Health Champion. The course, delivered by the national organisation Mental Health First Aid England, enables all teachers to not only identify young people who are vulnerable but also gives them practical steps to support and help.
Very few schools have used this training on such a comprehensive scale and we are one of the first to have done so on this scale in the South West.
Over the course of the year this training will extend to all teachers in the school including the Prep.
Our aim is to become a Talking School i.e. we learn to talk through our problems by understanding the value of listening and supporting young people on their journey.