On Tuesday 8 February, staff and pupils at Trinity Church of England School in Belvedere welcomed Children and Families Minister, Will Quince, and National Youth Mental Health Ambassador, Dr Alex George to discuss Trinity’s approach to mental health, the challenges they face and the school’s experience as one of the first ever UK schools to receive support from the Mental Health Supports Team service.
The Bexley Mental Health Support Team (MHST) was established in January 2021, following a successful bid to NHSE/I and the Department for Education to pilot the service as part of a national roll out in schools across England. MHSTs deliver early intervention and prevention support to children and young people with mild to moderate mental health needs. They work with schools to build resilience and positive wellbeing though running assemblies on key topics of concern, such as exam stress or anxiety, and facilitating peer support sessions.
Minister Quince and Dr Alex met with Lorna Rawlings, Trinity’s Senior Mental Health Lead, and Bexley MHST staff to find out about the programme. They also met with pupils, who shared their own experiences of the service. Since it has started, the service has been successful in supporting the mental health and wellbeing of staff and pupils across the school. The school has referred more than 50 pupils for one-to-one sessions, run small group courses on Anxiety and Low Mood with year 10, and delivered a whole-year workshop to Year 8 on Coping with Anxiety. Sixth Form Pupils have also worked to develop a self-referral process for 16+.
Trinity School Year 13 Pupil, Emily Saunders, said:
“It was extremely exciting for our school and everyone involved to be able to meet Dr Alex George and Minister Quince. It was an incredible opportunity to share our experiences and to promote initiating conversations about mental health in education, celebrating and raising awareness of Children’s Mental Health Week.”
Children and Families Minister, Will Quince, said:
“The resilience of children and young people should never be underestimated and the pupils that Youth Mental Health Ambassador Dr Alex George and I spoke to at Trinity School in Bexley this week are a testament to this. It was great to hear from them and their teachers about the positive impact that mental health support teams are having.
“Trinity School’s mental health support team is just one of nearly 400 teams that will be accessible to school and college pupils and students in England by 2023, meaning that almost three million young people will have access to this critical support. It is also one of over 8,000 schools and colleges that has already applied to train a senior mental health lead, which will be offered to every state-funded school and college by 2025.”
Senior leadership at Trinity School have fully supported the introduction of the Bexley MHST to their setting, dedicating time and energy to establishing local referral pathways and bespoke support to meet the needs of the pupils and their families. This commitment has enabled local learning for the MHST and wider system, supporting the growth of the team as it expanded the offer to a number of other schools in Bexley this January.