A primary school in Kent has become the first school in its county – and one of the first nationwide – to apply and receive funding to support children’s mental health.
Teachers at Harrietsham Primary School will now be trained by one of Mind’s local groups on boosting mental health among pupils.
The school applied to receive Lottery funding to support wellbeing for kids throughout the school and were pleased it was successful.
“We are extremely proud to be the first primary school in Kent to receive Lottery funding to support children’s mental health and to build their resilience,” Linda Oliver, head teacher at Harrietsham Primary School told HuffPost UK.
Oliver continued: “It is so important that we are able to identify children who are at risk of mental ill-health and to intervene early.
“Children need the skills to be able to talk about their feelings and to help them deal with problems that might emerge later in life.”
Oliver said it was “essential” for the staff at her school to better support pupils with mental health challenges in order for them to reach their full potential.
It had been reported that the school applied for funding for mental health support after evidence of children self harming at the school.
However Oliver said this was not the case.
“Applying for funding was not in response to a particular issue with self-harming at Harrietsham Primary School, but rather an opportunity to support the mental wellbeing of all pupils at the school,” she said.
“This is positive news about the school securing additional funding for that purpose.”
As part of the funding, Mind project manager James Walker said the school has received 18 spaces for a mental health first aid youth training course for teachers. These are two day accredited training courses for staff, so they can provide qualified assistance to any child in a crisis. This is usually a paid-for service.
“We are also providing mental health awareness training for parents as part of the funding,” Walker told HuffPost UK. “This will help us be able to better support young children through stress and anxiety.
“For the children, we are doing courses in the school based on self-confidence and resilience for children.”
This isn’t the first school to find ways to tackle the issue of children’s mental health.
A secondary school revealed in October 2017 it was hoping to pave the way for better mental health education, by piloting a project allowing Year 12s to teach Year 7s about their wellbeing.
Watford Grammar School runs the Mental Health Foundation’s (MHF) peer education project (PEP), which sees students become the teachers.
The programme makes it easier for children to open up about how they are feeling and know that it is okay not to be okay.
“Part of the strategies that we had identified – and that had been effective – are early intervention and raising awareness,” said deputy headteacher Sylvia Tai.
“This needed to start as soon as we possibly could. Year 7 is the ideal time.”