Mental Health and Emotional Wellbeing

In Cumbria we have a 'whole system model' to ensure that all children and young people can access the support they need to achieve emotional wellbeing and mental health.  The role of schools in Cumbria is essential and central to this approach.

Increasingly schools are broadening their role by helping to tackle the mental health problems of pupils experiencing difficulties of a more serious nature.  Guidance and advice for schools in relation to both the promotion and support areas of their practice has grown in recent years, alongside extensive research undertaken in both fields of education and health care.

Below is a summary of guidance and advice for schools with links to useful resources and information.

Cumbria's Local Transformation Plan for 2020 has been updated to include the impact of COVID-19.

 The Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families provides lots of resources and support for schools, parents, carers, children and young people.

 We know that the current Public Health pandemic is increasing levels of anxiety for everyone.  The Children's and Young People Management of Anxiety Guide [PDF 113KB] gives advice on how to support children and young people


Mental Health and Behaviour - Information and Tools for Schools [PDF 3.6MB]

This non-statutory advice clarifies the responsibility of the school, outlines what they can do and how to support a child or young person whose behaviour (whether disruptive, withdrawn, anxious, depressed or otherwise may be related to an unmet mental health need).
Key points:

• In order to help their pupils succeed, schools have a role to play in supporting them to be resilient and mentally healthy. There are a variety of things that schools can do, for all their pupils and for those with particular problems, to offer that support in an effective way.

• Where severe problems occur schools should expect the child to get support elsewhere as well, including from medical professionals working in Specialist Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS), voluntary organisations and local GPs.

• Schools should ensure that pupils and their families participate as fully as possible in decisions and are provided with information and support. The views, wishes and feelings of the pupil and their parents should always be considered.

• Schools can use the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) to help them judge whether individual pupils might be suffering from a diagnosable mental health problem and involve their parents and the pupil in considering why they behave in certain ways.

• There are resources available to help school staff support good mental health and emotional wellbeing. The PSHE Association has produced guidance and lesson plans to support the delivery of effective teaching on mental health issues.

• Schools should consider if their pupils would benefit from the offer of school counselling services. The Department for Education has published advice on how to set up and improve schools counselling services.

• There are things that schools can do - including for all their pupils, for those showing early signs of problems and for families exposed to several risk factors - to intervene early and strengthen resilience, before serious mental health problems occur.

The NCB FrameworK [PDF 3.7MB] is a very practical framework written by Professor Katherine Weare draws on extensive research, setting out a series of principles, designed to support school leaders and their staff to deliver well designed and implemented interventions and approaches, drawing on the latest evidence. It reinforces the need for schools to adopt whole-school thinking and a whole school approach to ensure that all parts of the school organisation work coherently together, promote staff well-being and particularly address staff stress levels.

Social, emotional and mental health is listed as one of the 4 broad areas of need in the SEND Code of Practice [PDF 3.23 MB].

Children and young people may experience a wide range of social and emotional difficulties which manifest themselves in many ways.  Theses may include becoming withdrawn or isolated, as well as displaying challenging, disruptive or disturbing behaviour.  These behaviours may reflect underlying mental health difficulties such as anxiety or depression, self-harming, substance misuse, eating disorders or physical symptoms that are medically unexplained.  Other children and young people may have disorders such as attention deficit disorder, attention deficit hyperactive disorder or attachment disorder.

Schools recognise the need to support the continued learning and professional development of their staff in the areas of emotional wellbeing and mental health.

Raising staff awareness about mental health problems and the role of the school, whilst developing an understanding of child and adolescent development in relation to emotional and mental health and the risk-factors to wellbeing, are now an important area for schools development and performance.

MindEd is funded by the Department of Health and is a free educational resource for everyone.  

The site provides information and advice for staff on children and young people's mental health and can sign posts  to targeted resources when mental health problems have been identified.


The Eurogenas project produced several toolkits and this one provides guidelines for school based suicide prevention, intervention and postvention, including practical tools and strategies such as guidelines on how to identify and deal with suicidal students and also for a classroom conversation after a suicide or suicide attempt of a student or staff member.

The concluding 8 point checklist will be of help to schools in assessing how well equipped and prepared they are to address this difficult area.

TOOLKIT School based Suicide Prevention Intervention and Postvention [PDF 4.8MB]

E-School Nurse Poster [PDF 335KB]
Children and young people can talk to a nurse over a live video link that is private, secure, confidential and convenient.