Blog: Children’s Mental Health Week – By Deputy Head Pastoral, Michael Harle

To mark Children’s Mental Health Week our Deputy Head Pastoral, Michael Harle, writes about the importance of mental health awareness in educational settings.

It is widely recognised that there needs to be effective support in schools for those who encounter mental health problems; but how can this support be provided?  With this in mind, the ten pastoral leads in the Senior school; five staff from the Junior school; four staff from Willow Lodge; two staff from learning support and the School Nurse have completed the Mental Health First Aid (England) training. 

This allows King’s to provide an immediate and effective response when students encounter difficulties, followed by referral to outside agencies or to our School Counsellor. This support is aimed primarily for those facing crisis and although the majority of students do not require this level of intervention, their ‘mental health’ is not overlooked.

Valuing every student as an individual is at the heart of all that we do and we recognise that positive emotional and social well-being is vital if they are to live happy and fulfilling lives. 

Sadly, society can present some poor role models for our young people and constant comparisons, self-scrutiny and the search for extrinsic validation can be corrosive. There is much that the school does to combat this and to support and encourage our students to develop empathy, kindness, self-efficacy and a growth mind-set.  Through this there can be a flourishing of self-esteem and personal resilience. 

This is, in part, achieved through personal tutoring, a structured pastoral and House program and a carefully considered rewards and sanctions system.  It is equally important to have the correct approach to teaching, learning, testing and reporting. The aim is simple – to help our students navigate the complexities of adolescence so that when they leave King’s they know how to be their sustainable best.