Emotional health and wellbeing

Emotional health and wellbeing

When a school promotes positive emotional health and wellbeing pupils can better understand and express their feelings. This builds their confidence and emotional resilience and therefore their capacity to learn.

"Schools can be confident that a focus on wellbeing and mental health not only enables them to provide healthy and happy school environments for pupils and staff and prepare the citizens of tomorrow with sound character and values, but also directly supports their more immediate mission: the promotion of effective learning" Prof Katherine Weare, Partnership for Wellbeing and Mental Health in Schools.

Wellbeing and resilience make up one of the key priorities for our work. We have prioritised the support we offer schools around wellbeing and have a range of training, resources, partnership working and signposting in place.

We would like to encourage you to participate in the Route to Resilience Programme.

We have also developed a training course called Whole School Approach to Good Mental Health. Schools have told us they are experiencing a need for support around promoting children and young people's positive mental health and we have responded to that by developing a training course to look at behaviours, risk and resilience factors, school-based interventions and specialist support. A very important aspect to consider is also promoting staff wellbeing.

Online safety is a vital consideration when thinking about children and young people's resilience and wellbeing. Zeeko provides schools with online wellbeing education.

In this section we also highlight some key documents / research about wellbeing in schools and further support available to schools.

Useful links/Background reading

What works in promoting social and emotional wellbeing and responding to mental health problems in schools?

Promoting children and young people's emotional health and wellbeing

No health without mental health

Preparing to teach about mental health and emotional health and wellbeing

Mental health and behaviour in schools

Resilience and results

Attachment Awareness

The roots of a child or young person's social-emotional wellbeing are found in their first attachment to their primary care-giver. The nature of that attachment determines not just their ability to form relationships but their capacity to learn. Secure attachment relationships correlate strongly with higher academic attainment, better self-regulation and social competence.

Most children and young people enjoy life and are successful in school and in relationships. This lasts into adult life. But a significant minority struggle from an early stage and especially in adolescence. These children and young people can be:

  • Unfocussed
  • Disruptive
  • Controlling
  • Withdrawn
  • Destructive

They tend to underachieve in school and are often punished and even excluded. Little that schools do seems to work. As a result, these children and young people may not fulfil their potential as adults, either in employment or relationships.

If educators establish attachment-like relationships with their students, particularly with challenging and vulnerable children and young people, this can improve their chances of learning and achieving.

Research on the importance of attachment

Nurturing adult attachments provide children with protective, safe havens and secure bases from which to explore and engage with others and their environment (Bowlby 1988).

Early care-giving has a long-lasting impact on development, the ability to learn, capacity to regulate emotions and form satisfying relationships (Siegel 2012).

Attachment is crucial to children's psychological welfare and forms the basis of personality development and socialisation (Bowlby 1988).

Teachers, youth workers and significant adults in a child's life can provide important attachments for children (Bergin and Bergin 2009, Riley 2010).

Read An Introduction to Attachment and the implications for Learning and Behaviour - "At the heart of this training tool is a concern to do our best for all children in school, not solely those who exhibit symptoms of trauma and unmet attachment needs, and a conviction that schools which are truly 'attachment aware', are those where all children are ready to learn and achieve".

Reading Well

Reading Well helps people to understand and manage their own health and wellbeing using self-help reading, and the reading lists are endorsed by experts. Reading Well was recognized by the Royal Society of Public Health as a finalist for the 2017 Public Mental Health and Wellbeing Award.

The Reading Young People Interactive Leaflet includes information on books that have information and advice as well as personal stories about dealing with feelings such as anxiety, depression or stress and experiences such as bullying. The Reading Well books have been chosen by young people and health experts to help with difficult feelings and experiences that can affect your wellbeing.

The Full Reading List for Professionals is a great resource for ideas on books to suggest to the young people that you work with, or for including in your school library. Don't forget to signpost young people to their local library to borrow the books from there too!

Massage in Schools Programme

The reported benefits of peer massage include an air of calm and co-operation in the classroom, an increased focus and a readiness to learn, improved confidence and self-esteem.

For further information about the programme and training, please contact Touchline Training.

Lessons Plans

Lesson plans on Mental Health & Emotional Health and Wellbeing

Please have a look at the PSHE Association guidance and lessons on teaching about mental health and emotional health and wellbeing in your school. Available here.