This blog has been written as a contribution to Martin’s brilliant #sharingiscaring collection.
Last Wednesday I ran a session for primary mainstream SENCOs on BESD and mental health. The current situation is grim….children as young as 5 are displaying symptoms of acute distress including disturbed sleep patterns, hyperactivity, feelings of withdrawal and isolation, disassociation. These can manifest themselves in poorly formed relationships with others and, at the extreme end of the spectrum, acts of violence and aggression and incidents of self-harm. As DHT of a PRU I despair that these marginalised children end up with us because often the right help is not sought, so I was on a mission to both inform and give pointers to early support.
I was fortunate to have a lovely lady from Barnardo’s come to speak to the group about their commissioned services and the role of CAMHS was also discussed with useful contact numbers given. We watched a very moving video on young people discussing their experiences – very emotional and thought – provoking – leading to an interesting discussion about societal issues which impact on mental health and individual cases within our various settings. We then had a look at the mental health standards for schools with some fab resources via Butterfly Print and discussed collaborating on Young Minds’ bespoke training on adopting a whole school approach.
At the end of the session a school immediately came forward to offer a venue for training and a young teacher said that she felt empowered to deal with cases herself rather than having to ask around for help. The feedback generally was extremely positive and there was a sense of schools wanting to take ownership rather than rushing to offload their difficulties onto others.
Final thoughts: our headteacher commented on how far some of the teachers had travelled for our twilight training….journeys of up to an hour each way; this underlines the commitment of dedicated professionals to improving the lives of children in their care. Our session was delivered free of charge, including refreshments, (nice biccies too!) because help is needed out in our real world and some things are priceless and shouldn’t have a monetary bottom line!
Next steps are to email the PowerPoint presentation to schools who have said they will cascade information to colleagues. I was very proud to incorporate relevant hyperlinks, thanks to tutoring from my amazing colleague who also works tirelessly to deliver help and training in the mainstream, and it’s a cost effective way of resourcing our events. We are also developing our new school website and hoping to collect useful resources and contacts in one place.
I am very proud of the links being forged in our school community and we try and organise free events each half term. We have also started a weekly SENCO surgery where schools can come by appointment to discuss individual cases and we frequently deliver INSET to schools in their settings!! Again….its free! I truly believe we are both sharing and caring!