Little Parndon recruit army of mental health champions

Education: Primary / Fri 4th Dec 2020 at 07:57am

MENTAL health champions are helping children to navigate their way through the emotion of the pandemic.

A group of 17 teachers, co-educators, one-to-ones, learning mentors, office staff and PE staff across Little Parndon Primary Academy, in Harlow, have undergone training to become Mental Health Champions.

They completed modules on looking after your own mental health, building positive relationships with parents, emotional development and attachment theory and learning strategies to support.

The training will give adults in all year group bubbles the knowledge and understanding of the impacts of mental health on children.

Ann Linden, learning mentor, said: “There have been many changes in school since lockdown began in March, with the majority of children not attending school again until September. We have found that children have been affected in many ways. 

“Their normal way of life changed overnight; they could not see many much-loved family members or friends as they used to. Many children often spent time with their grandparents and now worry about how coronavirus could affect those they love.  

“Some children have been confused, upset, anxious and worried. Everyone has been affected in some way and family life may be very different now than it was.   

“Being a Mental Health Champion will give staff the skills to recognise children who may need some extra support, children who have difficulty regulating or understanding their emotions and those who are quieter than usual or louder than usual.

“We should all be comfortable talking about mental health, recognising when ourselves and others need some extra support and being confident in asking for this and knowing who to ask. This is where our Mental Health Champions can help.”

Photos of the champions are on display on a noticeboard, so children know who they can speak to.

They can also leave notes in a worry box to share any concerns they have.

Mrs Linden said: “Some children may just need a chat, some will be referred to the learning mentor and some may need outside agency help.  

“The Champions are the first step to speaking out.”

The school is also working closely with MIND charity which has offered support to children and families with counselling and will be running assemblies and working with pupils in the New Year.  

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