Mental Health & Wellbeing
At Thames Ditton Juniors, we have ensured that the mental health and wellbeing of our pupils, staff and everyone within our school community underpins everything that we do. We provide a nurturing, safe and positive environment in which children can flourish emotionally, socially and educationally and where both staff and parents feel connected, appreciated and truly valued for their contribution.
We have introduced the concept of ‘growth mindset’ to encourage our children to develop both the resilience and determination to fulfil their potential and continue to signpost the importance of relationships across the school, within the context of our over-arching school values. Finding opportunities to build the confidence and self-esteem of our pupils allows us to create a wonderful foundation for both academic and personal success, during their time with us and beyond.
Through our wider curriculum, whole-school initiatives, assemblies and themed activities, our children now understand the value of self-care and why mental health is so important for overall health and happiness. We ensure that all children experience a sense of belonging and share a collective responsibility for the mental health and wellbeing of everyone we work alongside. Children have been encouraged to support one another, acknowledge and understand their emotions, take responsibility for their own learning and to recognise their own strengths and talents through the range of opportunities we provide.
Since 2017, we have had a dedicated, senior member of staff to lead on this subject – thus ensuring that mental health remains high on the school agenda. We also have an ELSA (Emotional Literacy Support Assistant) team working with our most vulnerable children as well as qualified Mental Health First Aiders. Our staff continue to receive high-quality training that supports the provision for our children and ensures those teaching your children remain happy and healthy in their roles.
Our universal offer is an integrated, curriculum-based approach to themes such as identity, aspirations, talents, differences and conflict through our weekly ‘Jigsaw’ PSHE programme, with progression throughout the school. In these lessons, children are always encouraged to take a mindful ‘break’ at the start of the session and an atmosphere of empathy and security is created to ensure children feel able to share. In addition, we have discussed anxiety management and social support strategies through assemblies and follow-up activities, introduced a number of whole-school initiatives to support awareness of mental health (e.g. the ‘Ask Twice’ campaign where children are shown how to support friends in need, workshops during ‘Healthy Schools’ week, ‘hygge’ time in class to foster comfort, connectedness and self-care, celebrating random acts of kindness, ‘One Good Thing’ as a daily reminder to reframe negative thoughts, etc.) and promoted World Mental Health Day in order to raise both awareness and vital funds for the YoungMinds charity this year.
We have really listened to the key concerns of our pupils and their parents through the use of mental health and wellbeing surveys and have identified clear aims for the year ahead, all of which have been shared within school and via the weekly newsletter. As we move forward, we hope to share more resources with those parents who need further support and make our referral process for mental health and wellbeing concerns more transparent for all. In the interim, you can support your child further at home by discussing the ‘5 Ways to Wellbeing’ and the use of growth mindset, e.g. the power of ‘yet’ and willingness to grow from challenge. There are also additional resources available below.
If you have any specific concerns, please use your child’s class teacher as the first point of contact. If yours is a more strategic concern or related to SEN, please liaise with Kelly Di Biase (Mental Health Lead) / Fionna Byrne (Headteacher) or Lisa Payn (SENCo) respectively. If you would like to help us celebrate your own child’s strengths and talents outside of school, please do let us know so that this can be acknowledged in school and in our weekly newsletter.
‘We All Have Mental Health’ - Anna Freud Foundation
What are the 5 Ways to Wellbeing? – Rochdale Council
YoungMinds Parents Helpline
0808 802 5544 (9.30 to 4.00pm, Mon- Fri)
We offer free, confidential online and telephone support, including information and advice, to any adult worried about the emotional problems, behaviour or mental health of a child or young person up to the age of 25.
Here are some websites designed specifically for children and young adults. The following websites have been vetted and approved by the NHS. We recommend that parents always look at and test out apps and games for themselves before introducing their children to them:
Positive Penguins - Aimed at 8 - 12 year olds. This app helps children to understand their feelings and challenge negative thinking. Four positive penguins take children on a journey to help them better understand the relationship between what they think and what they feel.
KOOTH - XenZone is a provider of online mental health services for children, young people and adults. Kooth, from XenZone, is an online counselling and emotional well-being platform for children and young people, accessible through mobile, tablet and desktop and free at the point of use.
Additional support available during the pandemic