I have been a teacher for 28 years, a Headteacher for 13 years and, at the age of 52, this much I know about a simple way to monitor our pupils’ mental health.
This coming week, the 6th – 12th February 2017, is Children’s Mental Health Week.
In 2017, the aim of the week is to encourage everyone — adults and children alike — to spread a little kindness.
We’ve all known someone going through a tough time, and it can be hard to know what to do to help, especially where children are involved. It may sound simple but in these moments, small acts of kindness can make all the difference.
Find out how you, your school, or your organisation can get involved and support Children’s Mental Health Week here.


When I interviewed Natasha Devon for my book, Mind over Matter, I asked her what one single piece of advice she had for teachers. This is her reply:
So, how might we make a deliberate effort to acknowledge that all our students have a mental health? It can be difficult, for a form tutor, for instance, to keep his or her wellbeing radar on for all the children in her form group. In the following extract from my book, I suggest a simple way – inspired by Victoria Agpar and Atul Gawande – for a form tutor to monitor his or her 30 tutees ’mental health:
agpar-3 agpar-4 agpar-5 agpar-6 agpar-7 agpar-8 agpar-9 agpar-10

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This post has 2 Comments

  1. Interesting: did you get the odd “I’m experienced, I spot this sort of thing” responses? I suspect that doctors said the same thing.
    Keep up the good work; I suspect that there’ll be a need for a tweak here and there but it’s a movement in the right direction, and that’s a good thing.
    Gawande’s books are all excellent: I think that “Better” and “Being Mortal” are the best…

  2. Great to see good folk with high profiles in leadership circles bringing mental health issues to the fore and I don’t believe many will disagree with the blog. Neat and relatively simple. Also worth looking at the research and resources on Young Minds, MHF, CORC, SANE, et al.
    I might take issue with the comment about SDQ’s being laborious given they can easily be completed online now with a very quick response detailing areas of concern.
    Nitpicking? Maybe. Otherwise the main focus for schools should be the raising of MH as a live ongoing topic revisited regularly as everybody’s concern – particularly when it could require the attention of the DSL considering the revised focus of KCSIE 2016.
    Cheers John!

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