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Best practice framework to help schools recognise early onset of mental health issues

The National Children’s Bureau (NCB), has published advice for schools to better support pupils with mental health issues and to promote well-being as part of school life.

Challenges to schools include the misuse of social media and cyberbullying which are identified as major causes in the rise in emotional disorders. Self-harm and eating disorders are also increasing with one in twelve children and young people said to self-harm. Many of these problems can remain undetected and untreated if schools do not take an active role.

A systematic review of best practice and research worldwide was conducted by Professor Katherine Weare for the Partnership for Wellbeing and Mental Health in Schools, which is a national network of 40 organisations hosted by the National Children’s Bureau.

The framework outlines effective approaches that include professional learning and staff development; adopting whole-school thinking; and developing robust policies to underpin a supportive environment.

The emphasis is on developing a school and classroom climate which builds a sense of connectedness and purpose so that all children can thrive. It also highlights the need to promote staff wellbeing and particularly to address their stress levels.

The findings identify the triggers that can lead to mental health issues such as: lack of trust; communication and relationship breakdowns; and the possible lack of extended family ties.

The framework demonstrates how to engage the whole school community so that pupils feel their voice is heard and parents, carers and families feel they genuinely participate, particularly those of pupils in difficulties who otherwise may feel stigmatised.

The framework is available here.


NAHT’s new course Suspicious, scared and sad  is aimed at helping you support  pupils with mental health needs. It provides an opportunity for you to learn more about what is meant by mental health; why it is important to understand what neuroscientists are discovering; and what it tells us about how to help children and young people with mental health needs to engage with learning.

Page Published: 24/03/2015