Welcome to our third ALNS safeguarding bulletin where we are hoping to share with you the latest knowledge, tips, and support services for various issues in order that we can work together to keep your children safe. Each bulletin will focus on a different area of safeguarding.
Children’s Mental Health Week
We celebrate this week in school each year (and in May we celebrate Mental Health Awareness Month). This year the theme was “Growing Together”. In our community circles and within our tutor group time we discussed how challenges and setbacks help us grow as we learn to cope with them. We learnt how we need others to help our growth – to help us believe in ourselves and support us and that it is important to support others. One way to grow and indeed to support our own mental health is to show acts of kindness to others so we are supporting “Friendly February” – commit to a daily act of kindness throughout the month (you never know – you might get a cup of tea!)
What is “normal”?
We all have emotions, and it is important that children are encouraged to see the experiencing of these emotions as “normal”. For example:
- It is normal to be nervous about trying new things, coming out of our comfort zone, it is how we develop and grow and find new possibilities.
- It is normal to feel sad if something upsetting occurs – a loss or family breakdown for example
- It is normal to feel angry if someone is unkind to us or we let ourselves down
- It is normal to feel nervous before an exam – it means it matters and they are producing adrenaline ready for the challenge ahead.
Talking about emotions and allowing them to be displayed in a safe way is incredibly helpful to adolescent brains that are growing and strengthening every day.
In School Support
- If your child would like to speak to an adult – they can arrange this via their Tutor or Head of House or you are most welcome to call into the school as their parent or carer. We call our 1:1 emotional support “EQ” and it usually is a 6-week programme of sessions.
- If your child would like to speak to a peer – we have 6 Key Stage 4 students trained as Youth Mental Health Ambassadors. They will be running drop-in sessions in Maths 1 each Wednesday during break one.
- If you think your child might need more support, we can refer them to the “Mental Health Support Team”, a branch of CAMHS with trained practitioners working with lower-level Mental Health concerns. Students would benefit from some specialist therapeutic intervention, usually taking place within school. Please contact your child’s Head of House, Tutor or Tracey Linn (who leads on our emotional support in school – [email protected])
- Specific support – Young Carers group runs on a Thursday after school (see Miss Carey)
Prism (our LGBTQ+ support group) is on a Tuesday after school (see Mr Jarvis)
NB – young people identifying as LGBTQ+ are 2.5 times more likely to
TALK TALK TALK!
- One of the reasons we introduced community circles at ALNS was because of the importance of talk. Checking in with each other is key. E.g., how was your day? Name 3 good things that have happened. What was the best thing?
- To encourage children to see how they are growing and strengthening, reflection chat is useful. g., what have been their recent achievements – academic/sporting/musical but also personally?
Top tip – it is not easy encouraging adolescents to talk – they tend to find it easier when it is part of another activity or when they are side by side with the person they are chatting to – so going for a walk or a drive is good or doing an activity such as baking a cake.
SLEEP – is vital
When sleep happens, it causes brain activity in the part of the brain that regulates emotion, so if you want a calm, well-regulated child – they need to get good quality sleep! They learn better and experience much better physical and mental health after a good night’s sleep.
- Phones need to be out of bedrooms!
- 11 – 15-year-olds need 8.5 – 9.5 hours a night sleep. A regular routine is vital.
Encourage your child to connect:
- with friends face to face (not on a screen!)
- with nature – get out in the big outdoors – especially during daylight
- with their physical bodies – do some exercise, mindful breathing, or meditation.
If you have any concerns you want to discuss at school please contact your child’s tutor, their Head of House or the Designated Safeguarding Lead – Mrs Holness.
- Kooth – online resource for 11- 18-year-olds for anonymous counselling, peer support via chatrooms and online advice Kooth.com
- Childrensmentalhealthweek.org – lots of online resources, ideas, and activities to support healthy growth and development.
- CAMHS – Child and Adolescent Mental Health. For initial advice – call the duty line on 0300 123 6632 Their website is here – https://www.solent.nhs.uk/our-services/services-listings/child-and-adolescent-mental-health-camhs-portsmouth/. You can get a referral via school or GP.
- Anna Freud Centre – Annafreud.org – lots of advice and further support channels for parents, carers, children, and professionals.
- Shout – text SHOUT to 85258 – 24/7 text support available with trained volunteers. Giveusashout.org.