Emotional Wellbeing and Bereavement

During this time, we know the key priority for our whole school community, either attending school or virtually, is their emotional wellbeing, and for some, having to cope with anxiety or the loss of a loved one.  How both staff and students feel supported by schools on their return will determine how successful the transition will be. Likewise, those staff and students still working virtually need reassurance and support.

The material experience of both staff and students will have differed, such as limited access to household space, financial hardship and lack of access and support to their education. Over the next months these issues maybe exacerbated further. There may also have been increased exposure to domestic abuse, substance misuse and parental mental health. All students would have had limited social contact, with some very little. The loss of a loved one as a result of Covid 19 will also be a further issue schools will need to navigate.

For some, this time at home may have enabled improved relationships with carers and enabled students to have reduced anxiety about issues within school. Both issues could result in an increased anxiety or resistance about returning to work and school.  Some students will also be deeply impacted  by disruption to routine, the change in relationships with peers and teachers as well as the potential risk of an overloaded sensory environment.

All staff and students will experience some degree of emotional wellbeing or anxiety challenges as they slide back into school life.  With a lengthy time away from peers, and new social distancing norms reconnecting with friendships will be a priority and challenge for them.  Schools will help students re-establish these.

The uncertainty of the depth and complexity of the emotional wellbeing issues which may arise in schools requires planning at the earliest. Schools should plan to ensure everyone feels included through an inclusive school culture; and that everyone returns to a positive and supportive working environment to help relieve anxiety and fear.

Daily thought should be given to ensuring the whole school community including staff and students are welcomed and are given the opportunity for wellbeing check ins within trusted relationships, enabling them to feel safe and part of a community which pull together and nurture each other. All staff should have a focus on the wellbeing of the whole community and pastoral staff are available and given the time to provide support.

The following guidance is based on the current evidence base and national guidance, as well as expertise from Educational and Mental Health Specialists across Kent.  This guidance will help schools to make decisions on how to support their community’s emotional wellbeing, as well as knowing what to do if a member of the school community requires extra support or guidance.

Each subject is complimented by a resource leaflet identifying further guidance, information, resources and services.  These information sheets can be accessed and distributed virtually to appropriate members of the school community.

  • Whole setting approach for emotional wellbeing; and tools to identify and respond to needs including the wellbeing and mental health of staff.
  • Wellbeing and mental health of young people.
  • Wellbeing and mental health of parents and carers.
  • Wellbeing and mental health of primary aged children.
  • Bereavement of a child or loved one.

Over the coming weeks The Kent Specialist Teachers Service with partners will publish guidance and resources to support students who are: highly anxious, at transition points, have Special Educational Needs and Disabilities, and are identified as vulnerable.

The information leaflets are not designed to be sent out directly to children, young people, parents and carers but provide you with resources to support your conversations with them.

Emotional Wellbeing in Education Settings

During this time the emotional wellbeing of staff, students and carers is critical.  Ensuring all staff and students are supported and they have access to regular wellbeing checks is important.

Schools should ensure that everyone feels included, through an inclusive school culture, and everyone returns to a positive and supportive working environment to help relieve anxiety and fear. The school should consider purchasing access to the Employee Assistance Programme (Counselling Service), and ensuring staff are aware of the service.

This section’s focus;

  1. Creating a culture of emotional wellbeing, identifying need and introducing curriculum resources
  2. Training and support for staff wellbeing

Kent’s Emotional Wellbeing (EWB) system

  • Schools want to ensure an environment where young people’s emotional wellbeing is promoted and supported. The Resilience Toolkit supports schools to explore where they are doing well and examine what else they can do to enhance this further and provides, templates, resources and free training on its implementation.
  • Fortnightly bulletin contains a list of resources to support parents, carers, schools, colleges and children and young people during this Covid19 pandemic.
  • CYP Kent Emotional Wellbeing flow chart enables staff when faced with a mental health issue for a student to be able to access the most appropriate support for them.
  • Early Help and Preventative Services includes tools and processes for Early Help; and leaflets for partners (PDF, 901.5 KB)and families (PDF, 906.9 KB).
  • It is important to have conversations with young people to find out their experiences and listen to their experiences, the resilience conversation tools can enable solutions to be found.
  • Emotional Wellbeing in Education Settings Covid-19 leaflet: offer includes additional curriculum and training resources to introduce mental health sessions to young people.

 Staff Wellbeing and Training (Additional Support In HR Section)

Covid Specific Training for staff can be found below.

Supporting staff emotional wellbeing and mental health – The Kent website enables an adult to navigate their way to support.

LIVE WELL KENT – can help you improve your mental and physical health and wellbeing. It is a free service for anyone aged 17 and over.

The Emotional Wellbeing in Education Settings Covid-19 leaflet provides further emotional wellbeing advice and services for adult substance misuse, domestic violence, extremism and financial hardship.

After considering what is on offer, schools should also consider purchasing access to and reminding staff of the ability to access the Employee Assistance Programme (Counselling Service)

Where to Find Support

  • CYP Kent Emotional Wellbeing flow chart

Practical Emotional Wellbeing for Young People

As well as having support from their school, carers and friends, young people should be encouraged to talk and to seek further support which they think may work for them. It is acknowledged that this is an uncertain time and it is normal that young people will feel anxious at this time.

It is important to have conversations with young people to find out their experiences and listen to their experiences, the resilience conversation tools can enable this exploration, and enable to find ways forward.

The attached leaflet enables young people and the adults who support them to find:

Information and practical activities on:

MoodSpark to look & finding solutions to look after resilience and emotional wellbeing, Mindfulness and the best apps.

FAQs for Children and Young People around emotions and COVID-1

Access Support services including

The Emotional Wellbeing Support Youth leaflet provides further support services for; Self harm support, Suicide information, Substance misuse services and parental conflict.

Practical Emotional Wellbeing of Primary Aged Children

Consideration of the emotional wellbeing of our primary aged children is paramount, as well as the support of their carers. Emotional Wellbeing Support for Primary School Aged Children – Covid19 resources are focused on activities with children, Mindfulness and supporting the understanding of the Coronavirus.

Services focused on The School Public Health Service and thee CYP Kent Emotional Wellbeing services

Counselling services are available 4-19 years

FAQs for Children and Young People around emotions and COVID-19.

Parents and Carers Resources

Parents and carers are central to the Emotional Wellbeing of our school community and they should be supported to develop their knowledge and skills to support the emotional wellbeing of their child as well as themselves.

Practical Resources for parents and carers enables them to access:

Information and resources to support their child’s emotional health and family support via  Early Help Support For Families

Training on mental health and webinars to support their child.

Parents and carers need to look after  their own emotional wellbeing and mental health LIVE WELL KENT – we can help  improve mental and physical health and wellbeing. It is a free service for anyone aged 17 and over.

The Practical Resources for parents and carers provides further emotional wellbeing advice and services for adults as well as providing support on substance misuse, domestic violence, extremism and financial hardship.

Bereavement including death of a child

Bereavement can mean sudden and dramatic changes to the support structures around a child. People who provide care may no longer be there or may be suffering with their own grief and shock. Schools provide routine and consistency in care and social relationships. They can foster new networks of support for children and young people and provide a place of normality and security when other aspects of life are disrupted. (Further Support in HR Section)

Practical and Emotional Wellbeing Support Following Bereavement

Training includes

  • Helping Children manage grief and loss

Services

  • Local support services for children, young people and families including family work and The Children and Young People’s Counselling Service are offering up to 12 sessions of bereavement support for children and young people who are bereaved as a result of the COVID-19

The Practical and Emotional Wellbeing Support Following Bereavement leaflet provides curriculum resources and further services for children, young people, families and schools to support bereavement.