Mental Health First Aid Training Rolled out to Pastoral Staff Across Woodbridge School

Miss Norman Reports: This week England is focusing upon raising awareness around Children’s Mental Health. 75% of mental illnesses start before a child reaches their 18th birthday, while 50% of mental health problems (excluding dementia) take root before the age of 15 years. From the tragic story of Molly Rose whose suicide was linked to viewing harmful internet content, through to discussions being held in parliament on the effects of social media and mobile phone technology upon children’s wellbeing, the importance of acknowledging and re-examining this area cannot be clearer.

Over the summer holidays, Woodbridge School enabled me to complete my instructor training in Mental Health First Aid (MHFA). This is an internationally recognised training course that is designed to teach people how to spot the signs and symptoms of mental ill- health in young people from ages 8 to 18. Subsequently, I have been able to extend this superb training initiative to 22 pastoral staff at Queen’s House, The Abbey and the Senior School to ensure that our teachers are able to spot the early signs of mental health issues, tackle the stigma surrounding it, and protect those young people who might be at risk of harm, guiding them towards appropriate support. More staff are signing up to complete the Youth MHFA two day course to ensure that they feel confident in dealing with the issues that come their way, offering reassurance to our pupils that they are not alone and that it is ok not to be ok. The Government’s plan to ensure that every school from 2019 has at least one member of staff trained to deal with mental health is a crucial one; Woodbridge School recognises that just one member of staff is not enough in a region classified as the weakest for accessing external support. It reminds our parents and pupils just how important mental health and well-being is within education.

Next term, I would like to extend the MHFA training to parents and those in our community who are interested in completing this certificate. There will be a voluntary donation to complete the training with proceeds going to a charity chosen by our pupils that supports mental health. If anyone would like to find out more about what the course entails or register interest then please do not hesitate to contact me at snorman@woodbridgeschool.org.uk.