Mental Health Policy

Mental Health Policy

1.   Statement
2.   Aims
3.   Related policies and legislation
4.   Responsibility and roles
5.   Positive mental health
6.   Seeking help
7.   Managing disclosures
8.   Identifying signs of mental health problems
9.   Procedures for dealing with mental health concerns
10. Review

Appendix A: Safeguarding Team

1. Statement
Ashbourne is committed to promoting and supporting the positive mental health and wellbeing of all members of the College community including students and staff. The College actively encourages the development of healthy relationships, personal responsibility and positive behaviour as well as an open and collaborative environment so that its members may feel safe, supported and capable of realising their personal and academic goals.

The College, nonetheless, recognises that mental health and wellbeing issues are a growing concern, particularly for young people, and that mental health problems may be an indicator of abuse, neglect and exploitation. All mental health concerns, therefore, are considered as safeguarding issues and will be dealt with in accordance with the College’s Child Protection and Safeguarding Policy.

2. Aims
This policy aims to:

  • outline the College’s approach to promoting and supporting positive mental health and wellbeing;
  • encourage anyone with mental health difficulties to seek help;
  • provide guidelines for early identification of mental health concerns;
  • set out procedures for dealing with mental health concerns.

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3. Related policies and legislation
3.1 Ashbourne College policies:

3.2 Legislation:

  • Keeping Children Safe in Education
  • Mental Health and Behaviour in Schools
  • Working Together to Safeguard Children
  • Children’s Act (1989)

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4. Responsibility and roles
All staff are required to complete relevant safeguarding training which includes understanding their responsibilities to help keep students safe and procedures to deal with any safeguarding concerns, as set out in the College’s Child Protection and Safeguarding Policy. Staff also receive regular updates on safeguarding training and issues as set out by the Designated Safeguarding Lead. Key members of staff, including Personal Tutors and PSHEE teachers, also take part in Mental Health First Aid training.

Ashbourne’s Safeguarding Team works closely with external safeguarding partners within the local authority and other outreach providers such as CAMHS in order to offer timely and appropriate support.
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5. Positive mental health
Learning to recognise and deal with the normal stresses and demands of life is part of developing resilience and building a healthy state of mind. Ashbourne encourages the development of characteristics that generally support positive mental health. Students will learn about and discuss in Personal Tutor sessions and PSHEE what constitutes positive mental health, strategies for coping with experiences and when and how to seek help if needed.

Ashbourne provides a comprehensive academic and pastoral support network for all students comprising teachers, Personal Tutors, senior leaders, Designated Safeguarding Leads, Access Arrangements Team (including SEND) and the Student Council. This helps create an open and honest environment so that members of the community can feel confident and safe to raise concerns and talk about most issues. Students are always welcome to request one-to-one meetings with their Personal Tutors or other members of staff. Additional support can be offered by the Safeguarding Team through individual support plans which may include sessions with the College counsellor.

Parents are encouraged to share any information or concerns they feel are necessary in order to support the wellbeing of their child at Ashbourne – an open communication channel can be vital. Disclosing information is mandatory in more serious cases which have involved professional assessment or clinical care and referrals to any local authority’s Children’s Social Care.

Ashbourne offers space in each of the premises where students and staff can go to take some time.

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6. Seeking help
Where students or staff experience emotional or psychological difficulties that are or become more persistent and/or affect their ability to participate fully in their learning, work tasks and/or to cope with everyday life professional support may be required. Ashbourne encourages anyone experiencing mental health difficulties, or others such as friends or parents who may be concerned about someone experiencing difficulties, to speak with a member of staff or the DSL. Students and staff may request individual counselling sessions, if appropriate, organised by the DSL, or they may be supported to seek external professional help. The Safeguarding Team will also explore other ways to support the student or staff member with respect to staff and peer support.

Where a student or member of staff is having mental health difficulties the DSL will also assess the impact on other students and members of staff and how they may also be supported.

Each staff member has a line manager with whom they can discuss any concerns or issues relating to their mental health. They may also speak with the DSL and have access to see the College counsellor.

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7. Managing disclosures
It can take a lot of courage to first acknowledge that a mental health problem exists and then discuss what is being experienced. Any disclosures by students or staff about themselves or others, to any member of staff, therefore should be received in a calm, supportive and non-judgmental manner. Concerns about students must then be conveyed to the DSL either in person or via the secure safeguarding database.

Where the concern raises serious and/or immediate risk of harm the person receiving the disclosure must contact the DSL or DDSL immediately or, in the unlikely event they cannot be contacted, Child Social Care and/or police, as set out in the Child Protection and Safeguarding Policy. This is a legal obligation.

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8. Identifying signs of mental health problems
Whilst only professionals should diagnose mental health problems there are indicators that may help identify whether someone is showing signs of or experiencing mental health concerns. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Repeated cuts or injuries
  • Excessive tiredness
  • Noticeable weight loss or gain, or changes in eating habits
  • Increased isolation from friends and family, and becoming socially withdrawn
  • Changes in mood
  • Talking and/or joking about self-harm and/or suicide
  • Substance abuse, including alcohol
  • Feelings of hopelessness, failure and uselessness
  • Secretive behaviour
  • Clothing unsuitable for the time of year, e.g., a large winter coat in the summer
  • Negative behaviour patterns, e.g., disruptive during lessons
  • Irregular attendance and absences
  • Lack of punctuality and lateness
  • Dramatic drops in educational attainment
  • Family and relationship issues

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9. Procedures for dealing with mental health concerns
Any concerns relating to mental health, including the indicators outlined in point 8, should be raised with the DSL in person or via the College’s secure safeguarding database. These concerns are taken very seriously and will be dealt with by the DSL in accordance with the Child Protection and Safeguarding Policy.

10. Review
This policy will be reviewed every year by the DSL to assess its effectiveness, and will be updated as necessary. In undertaking the review the DSL will take into account safeguarding reports and outcomes, as well as any changes in legislation and/or statutory guidance and other relevant information gathered.

Authorised by The Principal
Date September 2023
Effective date of the policy September 2023
Circulation Teaching staff / all staff / parents / students on request
Review date September 2024

Appendix A: Safeguarding Team

Ashbourne’s Safeguarding Team supports both students and staff:
Designated Safeguarding Lead
Frances Burns
[email protected]
Safeguarding Mobile: 07578 548 537
Deputy Designated Safeguarding Lead
Lee Kirby
[email protected]
Safeguarding Mobile: 07951 510 224
Nominated Safeguarding Director
Simone Shaw
[email protected]
Mike Kirby
[email protected]
College-approved counsellor
Rebeca Robertson
[email protected]

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