THE mental health of young people is being protected during the shutdown by a whole team of experts put together by their school.
Burnt Mill Academy, in Harlow, has a pastoral and safeguarding team responsible for ensuring young people at the school are safe and cared for.
While the school is closed due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the team is having to find new ways of ensuring those children and their families receive the same level of support remotely.
Rachel Fletcher, designated safeguarding lead, said: “Our role in school is to pick up any issues our children are facing or to act when anyone has concerns about a young person; that could be a tutor noticing a change in behaviour or a child coming to us to tell us of a change in their circumstances. We have got a pastoral team dealing day to day with children’s emotional problems and mental health.
“In response to the current situation, we have set up a system with a list of those students we need to check are ok two or three times a week.
“It is about being there for our students and making sure we are still contactable and that they and their parents know that.
“The impact on young people’s mental health is the biggest concern at this time. Nobody has got the answers for them; nobody knows how long this might go on for. But, we have a strong pastoral team who have built good relationships with the children and so they know they can email us to ask for help.”
Students have direct access to not only staff within the school with specialist roles, but external counsellors and nurses who are now working with them over the phone instead of face to face.
Mrs Fletcher said: “The day before the school closed, we went into every class and gave each student a contact card for the NSPCC, Childline and Kooth, the online mental health service. We made sure every child knew where to turn if they needed help. We made sure they were aware that while we are in very strange times, we are still about and that they can contact us if they need to.
“Ahead of the Easter holiday, we sent out more information giving students guidance on emotional wellbeing, how important it is to keep in touch with their friends and relatives, to try and keep on top of their work, to keep physically active and to try to pick up new interests.
“It was another way of reminding them we are still here to support them.”
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