GM Mentally Healthy Schools & Colleges – Developing a Whole School Approach Impact Report
The GM Mentally Healthy Schools & Colleges programme is part of a major £134m action plan announced in 2017 to help to transform mental health in Greater Manchester for children and adults.
Commissioned by the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership, the overall investment programme – the biggest and most ambitious of its kind in the country – takes a proactive approach, focusing on earlier intervention and prevention of poor mental health.
In March 2018, phase one of the Greater Manchester Mentally Healthy Schools Rapid Pilot involving 31 primary and secondary mainstream schools, special schools and PRUs, was launched.
The schools were recruited by Alliance for Learning Teaching School and the success of the scheme has meant that a second phase involving 64 schools began in January 2019.
The third phase of the project started in September 2019, and with over 125 schools, colleges and PRUs, the project has almost doubled in size.
The project has explored new ways of preventing mental health issues in young people through school-based interventions via a collaboration between:
- Alliance for Learning, a Greater Manchester Teaching School that leads and coordinates the programme and provides mental health first aid training.
- The Youth Sports Trust, a children’s charity with a mission to improve young people’s wellbeing and which delivers the programme in schools through its athlete mentors.
- 42nd Street, a children and young person’s mental health charity.
- Place2Be, a children’s mental health charity.
- Local mental health services.
- Develop a school-to-school support network where best practice and expertise can be shared to adopt a whole school approach to improving wellbeing and mental health. Another school might take a slightly different approach to the way you do something, so set up a regular forum where you can discuss challenges and solutions in confidence. Using a Teaching School network would be a sensible approach for this.
- Bring physical and mental health together – the two are equally important and are completely intertwined. You can do this by using the expertise of the PE team who already encourage students to be more active as we know physical exercise reduces stress and improves self-esteem. Simple things like introducing the daily mile can also work.
- Every school will have students who are ready-made wellbeing ambassadors. Encouraging members of the school council or those who may be involved in sports and leadership roles to offer guided peer-to-peer support can be a powerful tool in starting discussions around wellbeing.
- Conversations are key and having someone there who students feel comfortable talking to is important. It may not necessarily be the pastoral lead as individuals such as mid-day assistants and support staff can also be excellent listeners. If they have basic knowledge of mental health first aid, they will be able to spot signs and help pick up on subtle clues if someone is struggling with something.