Children’s Mental Health Week 2022: Case Study from Barwell Academy

This week is Children's Mental Health Week, which runs until 13th February, under the theme of 'Growing Together'.

Now in its eighth year, the event highlights the importance of looking after our emotional wellbeing from an early age. Mental health – and its relationship with online safety – should be interwoven into safeguarding provision, as young people are vulnerable to a range of risks in the digital world, many of which can impact their confidence, self-esteem and mental wellbeing.

Barwell Academy recognise the significance of hazards from the internet in relation to mental health, and DSL Katie Harris joined us to discuss how the school will be utilising their Certified School Membership to mark Children's Mental Health Week.

The importance of mental health and wellbeing

Barwell Academy places a huge emphasis on the importance of positive mental health and wellbeing in the whole school community.

Katie revealed: "Mental health and wellbeing run through the heart of Barwell Academy. We place children at the centre of all that we do, constantly considering the impact of our choices on the mental health and wellbeing of our pupils.”

"We believe that in order for children to grow and become the best version of themselves, they need to understand how to handle difficult situations which are thrown at them in life," she added. “Mental health and wellbeing will determine how successfully children are able to cope with day-to-day life.”

Joining National Online Safety

At National Online Safety, we’re constantly updating our resources and training – so that our member schools can stay completely up to date with the latest developments in the ever-changing digital world.

Katie explained: "One of the reasons we decided to join National Online Safety was the quality of the resources you were providing to the whole school community.

She continued: "Whether that's the Wake Up Wednesday guides, the up-to-date webinars, the courses ... everything continues to be updated, which is so handy. We've utilised other courses on there, which may not be specific to online safety. Those have been an added bonus for us."

Encouraging positive mental health with online safety

The DfE's 'Keeping Children Safe in Education' guidance makes it clear that mental health should be interwoven into safeguarding provision. Barwell Academy wholeheartedly adopted this approach, with particular reference to online safety.

Katie explained: "Within the school, we know the impact that the online world can have on mental health. We’ve seen it through social media pressures, screen addiction, sadfishing ... they're all aspects of online safety which can have a negative impact."

She continued: "We developed 'Wellness Wednesday', where children were set tasks relating to different strands of wellness, which had to be completed away from a screen. It allowed children to spend time outdoors, with family and friends, developing a better understanding of their own mental health. Back in school, we offer regular support, which is tailored and personalised to meet the needs of the children."

Children’s Mental Health Week 2022

The theme of ‘Growing Together’ for this year’s Children’s Mental Health Week encourages young people and adults alike to reflect on how’ve developed and how they can help others to grow.

Katie said: "I think that mental health and wellbeing can be a difficult conversation to have with parents, carers and children. We like your guides as they provide conversation starters to allow children to open up and begin to express their emotions and feelings."

"Our wellness champions have completed your courses and webinars, which have helped them to gain a better understanding of their roles,” she revealed. "Not only are the resources useful, but it's great to see the webinars and courses being added to and used in different ways by the whole school community."

"The courses and webinars have proved useful in tackling the different areas of mental health and wellbeing," Katie confirmed. "Several staff members regularly check the National Online Safety website to see what resources are available, which we'll be utilising for Children's Mental Health Week."

Discussing Barwell Academy’s plans for the event, Katie announced: "We have plans for classes around the school, focusing on mental health and wellbeing. There will be an assembly before the children embark on various activities. We want to encourage our children to talk about mental health and feel comfortable in doing so."

"At the end of the week, we'll be taking part in the ‘Dress to Express’ day, as a way to round off all of the information we'll be giving them over the next week." she concluded.

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