Mental Health Letter
Please find below the latest letter from our Principal regarding Mental Health and Wellbeing
As a very emotional week draws to a close I would like to share with you information that I hope you will find useful in supporting your child over the coming days.
The student involved in the incident remains stable in hospital and continues to make good progress. He still has a long path to recovery ahead of him but is already re-indulging in his passion for Skittles sweets!
We recognise that this may be a difficult time for your child following their experience of something that was frightening to them. They will display a range of reactions that are normal responses to a traumatic event. We would emphasise that the best ways you can support your child through this experience are:
- Be accessible and approachable. Listen to what children have to say about the event. This gives you the chance to clear up misunderstandings and identify the support that they need.
- Be ready to listen. Often we may prefer to avoid talking to children about unpleasant events, especially if we are not sure how we feel ourselves. But, if we expect children and adolescents to learn effective ways to cope with distress, we must as adults open up the opportunities to talk with them.
- Encourage using creative ways to express feelings, e.g. art and music. If they want to draw pictures and destroy them, that’s okay. If they want to keep them, that’s okay too. Be flexible.
- Help children feel safe. Realistically reassure them. You can try to protect them but we do need to be honest with children that we can’t always keep bad things from happening.
- Identify the difference between the possibility of danger and the probability of danger. We can help them to think about the realistic risk of danger by checking facts and misunderstandings.
- Look for feelings beyond fear and anxiety. Encourage the development of caring and empathy by pointing it out when you see it occurring.
- Help children find some course of action. Children may want to write a message or letter for the student and we have given students this opportunity and will continue to do so in the weeks ahead. Young people may want to become involved in an organisation committed to prevention of such events. Children have great ideas!
- Take action yourself. Get involved in working to make a difference. Children sense this and feel more hopeful when you do.
Some events are media saturated and children who are over-exposed to social media discussions are likely to have their worries and fears exacerbated. Do ensure that messages are factual and clear and do not be afraid to say that you don’t know something rather than giving an ambiguous answer that fuels uncertainty and worry.
Evidence shows that the majority of children and young people respond best to keeping to a regular routine that is reassuring and promotes physical and mental health. Encourage children to keep up with schoolwork and extracurricular activities but make allowances if they seem to become overwhelmed.
Again, we do emphasise that staff will be available to support your child through this difficult time, but please do speak to us if you feel your child needs some extra help to cope with the situation.
I have shared below a number of sources of online support. It may help for the students to visit one of the websites for more information. Alternatively, they may like to download one of the suggested Apps from the list provided by MIND (attached with this letter)
If you are looking for somewhere to get information for yourselves there are a few useful sites listed below:
- the Moodspark website is for young people aged 10 to 16 to learn to look after their emotional and mental health
- ThinkNinja is the first mental health app approved by the NHS to support the mental health and emotional wellbeing of children and young people during the coronavirus pandemic, and is now listed in the NHS apps library. It is available for 10 to 18 year olds
- Togetherall is available for 16 to 18 year olds with an online community filled with resources, information and online counselling
- Kooth is for young people 10 to 16 to get advice, information and can also chat to a qualified counsellor
- Kent Youth Health have advice and information for young people dealing with their emotions during this time
- many youth services have been moved online, including opportunities for you to talk to youth workers and friends, as well as lots of new activities for you to try.
We will continue to update you on this situation, and the support that is ongoing for your child and the school community.
I wish everyone a restful weekend, keep talking, and as one of our students reminded me this week;
“They may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel”
Gurjit Kaur Shergill