Welcome to our ninth 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.
Key Focus - Children's Mental Health
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 we 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.
Spotlight: - Gaming
• 23% of parents believe their child is addicted to gaming.
• 38% think they play for too long
• 41% say their child becomes angry if they are prevented from gaming.
Its not all bad though – gaming provides distraction, pleasure, a way to socialise and relax (so says Dr Richard Graham – consultant child and adolescent psychiatrist and clinical director of Stem4). He goes on to say that it is a ”fantastic way of having some respite from (teenage) pressures” (The Times, November 18th 2023)
Research in 2020 found that only 1.2% of players were addicted (Addictive Behaviours Report)
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 a number of Key Stage 4 students trained as Youth Mental Health Ambassadors. Alongside our Anti Bullying Ambassadors, they run a Support Room in Design 2 every day during First Break. They also co-ordinate our confidential “worry box” which is situated outside the medical room and available for students to post concerns either for direct support or anonymously, for example, if they’re worried about somebody else.
• 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, providing 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 report mental health problems according to the Anna Freud Centre.
TIPS TO SUPPORT "HEALTHY GAMING HABITS"
• Watch out for whether your child is out of step with their peers (eg gaming through the night when others are sleeping)
• Resist the urge to be judgmental – try to understand why it is of value to them
• Look out for red flags – shutting themselves in their rooms, refusing to eat, losing contact with friends.
• A truly addicted child will need help to stop – seek it from the GP
• Set clear boundaries on time limits but be reasonable – use a common sense approach – there is no definitive research that
sets “cut offs” but they probably can’t fit in more than 3 hours a day if they make the right amount of time for
sleep/independent learning etc. The occasional binge is ok!
• Try to understand the game yourself – for example levelling up can take ages – if they are close to success maybe don’t whip
that away if a few more minutes would make it!
• Gaming is highly social – find out when is a good time they can play with mates and allow some way of making that happen.
• Have a break before bedtime…which leads us onto….
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.
Take a look at our revamped school website – there is a whole section on mental health
How can you support your child to strengthen their mental health?
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.