Mental Health and Wellbeing

At The Forest School we are wholly committed to the promotion of positive mental health and wellbeing of all our staff, students and parents. We aim to achieve this through a whole school approach that minimises the stressors that leads to anxiety, provides support to those who may suffer from mental health related conditions, and educates all in how to lead a positive lifestyle in order to maximise physical, mental and social well-being.

The Forest School are proud and privileged to be using the Carnegie Centre of Excellence Mental Health Award for Schools as a framework and tool to help deliver our approach.

To illustrate the importance of why Forest School takes mental health and wellbeing seriously, the list below highlights key findings from a Guardian research article from January 2017:

  • 16 million people in the UK experience a mental illness
  • Three in four mental illnesses start in childhood
  • 10% of school children have a diagnosable mental illness
  • 75% of young people with a mental health problem are not receiving treatment
  • The average wait for effective treatment is 10 years
  • Suicide is the biggest killer of young people in the UK
  • People with severe mental illness die between 10 and 20 years earlier than the general population
  • More than half of young people link mental illness with alienation and isolation
  • More than half of young people feel embarrassed about mental illness
  • Just 6% of UK health research spending goes on mental health
  • For every person affected by mental illness, £8 is spent on research – 22 times less than cancer and 14 times less than dementia
  • Less than 30% of mental health research is focused on young people

Our whole school approach can be broken down into key elements:

1. Support for our students

  • We have three trained learning mentors who regularly mentor identified students
  • We have four pastoral leaders who are key members of staff in liaising with parents and outside agencies such as CAMHS, Youth Emotional Support (YES)
  • We have a fully qualified school counsellor who counsels identified students
  • A curriculum that is tailored around student needs including the popular Forest Schools alternative learning, known as The Woodland Project
  • Small group support sessions for students who suffer from Emotionally Based School Avoidance
  • We have 17 members of staff who are qualified Youth Mental Health First Aiders

2. Support for our staff

  • wellbeing activities including therapeutic art, cooking and badminton sessions
  • regular review of workload
  • trained coaches amongst the staff
  • annual wellbeing day
  • free hot drinks throughout the day
  • two fully qualified Adult Mental Health First Aiders

3. Work with parents and external agencies

  • four pastoral leaders who have the responsibility of communicating with parents as well as key external services e.g. MASH, YES, CAMHS

4. Creating a culture of positive mental health and wellbeing

  • regular assemblies where there are presentations on a variety of related topics such as cyber bullying, healthy lifestyle, resilience etc
  • a regular PSHE programme as part of the vertical tutoring system, often delivered by students
  • an emphasis on encouraging students and staff to talk to somebody about their mental health concerns

Key Members of Staff

Ian Tomkins – School Lead for Mental Health and Wellbeing and Adult Mental Health First Aider

Caroline Dedman - Adult Mental Health First Aider

Michael Wickham – Director of Inclusion

Mark England – Safeguarding Lead

Sara Thompsett - Community Leader (Branson)

Emma Ong - Community Leader (Dyson)

Sarah Hoddy - Community Leader (Hawking)

Sue Perry - Community Leader (Marconi)

Kay Pollen - Learning Mentor

Karen Francis - Learning Mentor

Julie Doidge - Learning Mentor

Susan Harman - Learning Mentor

Additional Websites