At Blackfriars, we understand that it is difficult for students to learn effectively if they are struggling with mental health issues. This can encompass a very wide scale including stress caused by a single event such as exams; obsessive compulsive disorder; eating disorders; depression or issues around low self-esteem and anxiety to name but a few.
Our commitment to supporting students with mental health issues resulted in a year-long research project undertaken by all staff to develop their own understanding of how to identify mental health issues and support students with them. Throughout this project, we were supported by Dr Juliet Shand (our Clinical Psychologist)
As a direct result of this project, we now have:
Groups of staff who have specialised in different mental health conditions who have a range of strategies that they share with the whole staff on a regular basis
A relaxation club at lunch-time for those students who need to ‘chill’ at lunch-time and struggle with social interaction in free times
An on-line resource for parents and students to provide non-technical laymen’s information about different mental health conditions with suggestions for further support (under development)
In the past, we have worked with other organisations who offer support and strategies for students with mental health needs. The charity Dove has provided sessions on self-esteem and supported individual students with bereavement issues. They also supported us as a wider community when we lost a child; a Psychology student from Keele University delivered a PSHE Unit on ‘Mindfulness’ for Year 10 and 11 students, plus the Nordoff Robbins charity provided a trainee music therapist to work with students who were experiencing different issues. We are always open to and actively search out collaborations with other organisations if we feel that their involvement will enhance the lives of all in our community.
Students at Blackfriars have regular access to:
1:1 sessions with our Clinical Psychologist, Dr Juliet Shand
1:1 sessions with our school mentor, Mrs Emmens
Group sessions concentrating on issues such as self-esteem, friendship issues etc
‘Mind, body and spirit’ sessions in the build up to exams to ensure that students are in the best shape to take external exams (where appropriate)
Expert advice on ‘special cons
Parents are also supported, we have regular drop in groups looking at sensitive topics such as ‘Teenagers and sexuality’ and we operate an open-door policy when parents and carers want to come in to discuss any concerns they may have.