Flintshire teachers take on groundbreaking mental health course
Two teachers at a Flintshire high school are part way through an innovative training course that is designed to inform and empower school staff to respond effectively to vulnerable children, and those who have suffered a trauma or have a mental health issue.
Sian Williams, assistant headteacher with responsibility for attitude to learning and wellbeing at Flint High School, and Sam Harbour, associate headteacher, are studying the Diploma in Trauma and Mental Health-Informed Schools and Communities.
The diploma, which has been developed by Trauma Informed Schools UK, provides training that is practical and underpinned by over 1000 evidence-based psychological, medical, and neuroscientific research studies.
According to the organisation’s website, one of the biggest ever Public Health studies, The Adverse Childhood Experiences study, (ACE study), found that adverse childhood experiences are a leading determinant of the most common forms of physical and mental illness, and even early death, in the Western World.
Conversely, numerous research studies on ‘social buffering’ show that ‘protective factors’, namely interventions by emotionally-available adults, before the age of 18, can positively affect a child’s outcomes and the direction of their life.
The training course provides key insights into the psychology and neuroscience of mental ill-health and challenging behaviour, alongside vital tools and techniques to enable staff to think psychologically about students in terms of what has happened to them, rather than simply why they are misbehaving, and to understand how best to respond to their narrative of painful life events.
In conjunction with using accessible language and gaining a child’s trust, this can often be enough to prevent years of suffering and the medicalising of their distress with psychiatric labels and medication.
The teachers will also become more confident in distinguishing developmental trauma from a diagnosis of ASD, ADHD, and Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS). They will learn when to challenge
misdiagnosis, as well as knowing when to seek the support of psychologist-led supervision or to refer on.
This approach will help students feel cared for and appreciated, helping them to emotionally regulate, feel psychologically safe, and develop the capacity to handle stress well over time, all of which will improve self-esteem and confidence.
Both teachers will roll out the training and knowledge they have gained to all staff in the school.
Mrs Williams said: “Here at Flint High we have an outstanding pastoral provision, and this specialist training builds on our commitment to support all our students as best as we possibly can.
“It is fascinating to study this area in depth, and to understand how transformative this approach can be to a child who is, or has been, affected by these complex issues. We all want nothing more than to change a troubled child’s life for the better so that they can see a different future ahead.
“In addition to working with individual children, the course focuses on changing the whole school culture to become mentally healthy for all, and includes strategies designed specifically to address teacher stress and wellbeing so that they are less likely to leave the profession.
“This is an exciting and rewarding development for us as a school and we look forward to seeing positive results.” Spotted something? Got a story? Send a Facebook Message | A direct message on Twitter | Email: News@Deeside.com