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Working with NAHT to provide guidance for pupil’s mental health and wellbeing

The National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) has worked in partnership with us at the Anna Freud Centre and the PSHE Association to produce guidance, which aims to help school leaders and their staff, in all phases of education, support children and young people with their mental health and wellbeing in light of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

The guidance, Supporting Pupils’ Mental Health and Wellbeing, outlines some universal approaches for all pupils and for those with low-level mental health needs, exploring the following and providing links to relevant resources in each section:

  • The impact of coronavirus on children and young peoples’ mental health and wellbeing
  • How these experiences might affect pupils when they return to school
  • How can you support pupils to readjust, recover and move forwards?
  • Fear, anxiety and uncertainty
  • Transitions
  • Relationships
  • Self-regulation, concentration and engagement
  • What can schools and teachers do through PSHE education?

There has been much research in recent months looking at the potential impact on children and young people of the coronavirus pandemic and the resulting lockdown. This guidance looks at how the pandemic may have affected mental wellbeing in various negative ways such as, loss, anxiety and bereavement. It suggests that schools should be particularly alert to children and young people with pre-existing mental health conditions and those with coronavirus related adverse experience.

The guidance also suggest that for some pupils, lockdown will have also brought experiences which may have had a positive impact on their mental wellbeing, and allowed them to develop new skills.

Jaime Smith, Director of the Mental Health and Wellbeing in Schools Programme at the Anna Freud Centre says: “We are very pleased to have worked with NAHT and the PSHE Association in order to provide this guidance to help school staff support their pupils’ mental health and wellbeing as they return to school.

“The coronavirus pandemic is unprecedented. None of us have been through this experience before so we don’t know what the  impact will be, every child and family will react differently. We do know that as children and young people return to school, they will bring their experience of coronavirus and lockdown with them, but some of their anxieties and concerns may shift to focus on their new circumstances in school.

“Teachers may notice new and different  behaviours in some of their pupils so we have worked with our partners on this guidance to help school staff know how they can support pupils to readjust, recover and move forwards. It is important for schools to normalise that it’s ok to feel anxious at this time. Change can be disruptive, and people respond in different ways, but all of us will face challenges, both personal and professional, over the coming weeks and months. We cannot overestimate the importance of looking after each other and supporting the wellbeing of pupils and staff during these difficult times.”

The guidance is also supported by Place2Be and Young Minds. Read the guidance: “Coronavirus: Supporting Pupils’ Mental Health and Wellbeing”.