One in 10 children experience a mental health difficulty by age 11 and until now, many teachers looking for advice on the issue have found the information available difficult to navigate, as it is often unclear whether it is expertly verified.
It is hoped the new ‘Mentally Healthy Schools’ website will provide primary school teachers with the practical verified resources they need to better support their pupils.
“The website is proof that there is so much help out there and now people know where to look for it,” said former headteacher, Claire Thomson, one of the quality assurance advisors who compiled the content.
“I can see this website becoming a favourite go-to site for information about the many aspects of mental health.”
“I think it is really important that all school staff feel that the information applies to them as well, not just to teachers,” Thomson continued.
“No matter what their role in the school, they need to have an understanding and empathy towards all the children.“
The website is the latest initiative from Heads Together - the mental health initiative spearheaded by the Duchess along with Prince William and Prince Harry.
It is currently being trialled at selected schools - including Roe Green Junior School in Brent, which Kate visited today [Tuesday 23 January] - and will be made available for free to all schools in England later this term, before rolling out across the rest of the UK.
The ‘Mentally Healthy Schools’ website draws together reliable mental health content gleaned from more than 1,500 online resources, which were reviewed and evaluated by a quality assurance group to ensure the suitability for a primary school audience.
The content will be provided in four main areas; Teaching Resources, Risks and Protective Factors, Mental Health Needs, and ‘Whole School Approach’ for school leaders.
“It is like a huge jigsaw but when you sit and go through all the different aspects, as I have had the privilege to do, you can see so many more connections and possible ways forward than if you were to look at each aspect in isolation,” explained Thompson.
“The different links to other pages should also enable everyone in the primary school to make more connections, widen their understanding and make a difference to the wellbeing of so many more children.”
Coordinated and financed by The Royal Foundation, ‘Mentally Healthy Schools’ has been developed by the youth-focused charity partners of Heads Together; the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families, Place2Be and Young Minds.
Tom Madders, campaigns director at YoungMinds told HuffPost UK that taking positive steps to protect children’s mental health was absolutely “crucial” in primary school.
“We know from our research that three-quarters of parents would prefer to send their children to a school where children are generally happy, even if previous exam results have not been good. That’s why it’s crucial that schools are able to prioritise the wellbeing of their students, and not just academic performance,” he said.
“The Mentally Healthy Schools website will make it really easy for anyone who works at a school to find quality-assured, practical resources on supporting pupils’ mental health.”
NAHT, the school leaders’ association, has been engaged in developing the initiative from the outset, and content guidance was provided by Centre for Mental Health.
“School leaders have been clear that they need access to high quality resources to help schools’ work in supporting children’s mental wellbeing,“said Sarah Hannafin, NAHT senior policy advisor.
“This new website will be a fantastic practical resource for schools, drawing together quality assured and useful information and resources into one place.
“We’d encourage all primary school leaders and their teams to bookmark it.”