Reports are increasing about the fragile mental health of our young people. In disadvantaged areas the pressure of examinations and growing up in a complex World are further impacted on by poverty. Life is often more stressful for disadvantaged families and their children.
There is not always enough money for food, electricity, gas or clothing further increasing stress levels. Depression, self-harm, drug dependency, domestic violence can be either cause or effect in a negative spiral of increasing mental health problems. For some of our pupils there is an issue of readiness for learning at an emotional and psychological level. A lack of support services, particularly Children & Adolescent Mental Health Services, can leave schools isolated in attempting to deal with these issues.
Blackpool have already been successful in taking forward a bid to the Big Lottery for its pilot HeadStart project for 10-14 year olds securing five hundred thousand pounds and is now looking at expanding the programme to involve more schools. Marc Chevreau (Blackpool Specialist Senior Educational Psychologist) explained the basis for the programme which uses Bronfenbrenner and the socio-ecological model of human functioning to resolve difficulties and enhance well-being through building strengths and reducing risks in young people’s lives. An extract of his blog post is below and resilience is being used here as a response to chronic failures and difficulties rather than simply a poor grade or in class challenge:
- Individuals are only ‘resilient’ if they are managing adversity.
- Resilient functioning arises from a dynamic interplay between the individual and the environment; it is not, thus, a simple personality characteristic.
- A resilient response is likely to be the result of a balance of risk and protective factors. Personal social and emotional skills – such as problem-solving skills – are an important component but so are the contributions of home, school and community environments. Resilience is ‘domain-specific’ – a young person may be resilient in the school context but not at home.
- The resolution of difficulty and the enhancement of well-being may arise from change in the individual, changes in the environment or a subtle combination of both.
- Programmes should be considered at each of the levels of individual, family, school and community.
Whilst these bullet points are probably not new to many teachers and support staff presenting them so clearly and simply is massively helpful. With resilience being seen as domain specific, how will the difficulties in different areas of a pupil’s life and their varying responses impact on her/his school outcomes? Can in-school Growth Mindset programmes compensate for family and community issues or is a one dimensional approach doomed to failure particularly for pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds.
How holistic does a school’s Growth Mindset work need to be before it will have sufficient efficacy?
We hope to be involved, as a Trust, in the next phase of Blackpool’s work which will afford us a certain level of funding for a number of years. There are big questions that need answering about how we could most effectively use this funding and the exit strategy from the programme. If you had some extra resources how would you use them? Without additional resources would you be willing to radically restructure and rethink your employment of staff to include mental health and social workers as part of your on-site core team? Resilience matters and in tomorrow’s post I’m hoping to explore some of the complexity exposed to us by the wonderful Mark Healy (@cijane02) when thinking about developing a healthy minds, healthy mindsets programme.
#SaturdayThunk is based on something I’ve been thinking about, discussing, working on or has been topical that week. The thunk is designed to be bite sized and will deliberately be kept short. It will take one small issue or an aspect of something much bigger. The intention is for it to be read in two minutes as you’re relaxing or busy running around on you day off.