Mental Health2018-11-14T12:27:18+00:00

Mental Health

Mental Health and emotional well-being in school – an overview



Mental health problems are changes in thought, mood and/or behaviour that impair functioning. (Murphey, Barry & Vaughn, 2013)


There are a variety of contributing factors to the onset of mental illness:

  • Physical causes
  • Social and environmental causes
  • Psychological factors
  • Family history

Conditions are also influenced by the distribution of money, power and resources operating at global, national and local levels.

In an average class of 30 15-year-old pupils…

  • 3 could have a mental disorder
  • 10 are likely to have witnessed their parents separate
  • 1 could have experienced the death of a parent
  • 7 are likely to have been bullied
  • 6 may be self-harming

(Public Health England, 2105)

‘Children who are mentally healthy have the ability to:

  • develop psychologically, emotionally, intellectually and spiritually;
  • initiate, develop and sustain mutually satisfying personal relationships;
  • use and enjoy solitude;
  • become aware of others and empathise with them;
  • play and learn;
  • develop a sense of right and wrong; and
  • resolve (face) problems and setbacks and learn from them’

‘Some children experience a range of emotional and behavioural problems that are outside the normal range for their age or gender. These children and young people could be described as experiencing mental health problems or disorders.’ D of Education, 2016

When a problem persists or is severe then the child could be described as having a mental health disorder.

‘Mental health professionals have defined these as:

  • emotional disorders, e.g. phobias, anxiety states and depression;
  • conduct disorders, e.g. stealing, defiance, fire-setting, aggression and anti- social behaviour;
  • hyperkinetic disorders, e.g. disturbance of activity and attention;
  • developmental disorders, e.g. delay in acquiring certain skills such as speech, social ability or bladder control, primarily affecting children with autism and those with pervasive developmental disorders;
  • attachment disorders, e.g. children who are markedly distressed or socially impaired as a result of an extremely abnormal pattern of attachment to parents or major care givers; and
  • other mental health problems include eating disorders, habit disorders, post- traumatic stress syndromes; somatic disorders; and psychotic disorders e.g. schizophrenia and manic-depressive disorder

‘Certain individuals and groups are more at risk of developing mental health problems than others. These risks can relate to the child themselves, to their family, or to their community or life events. Risk factors are cumulative. Children exposed to multiple risks such as social disadvantage, family adversity and cognitive or attention problems are much more likely to develop behavioural problems’. From Dept. for Education, 2014, DFE-00435-2014

New Horizons is an SEMH school which means…

A specialist school for children whose behaviour is so severe or persistent it has impacted on their ability to attend mainstream school.

Our population of students presents with persistent disruptive behaviour and violence. They are all, without exception, exposed to or living with at least three of the following risk factors;

  • Learning disability
  • ASD
  • Speech and language difficulties
  • Chaotic home life
  • Are a Looked After Child
  • Exposure to DV (past or present)
  • Have experience of significant loss or separation
  • Live in poverty
  • Attachment difficulties
  • Developmental or relational trauma
  • Experience of neglect
  • Sensory processing issues
  • Experience of or witness to abuse (physical, emotional, sexual)
  • Witness to or have experience of a traumatic incident
  • Have a genetic or neuro-developmental diagnosis that impacts on their behaviour
  • Have a diagnosis of ADHD, ADD, ODD etc.

Mental health is compromised by risk factors such as these and these risks are cumulative. It is not unusual for a student to have 5 or more risk factors.

The student population of our SEMH schools is made up of children and families who have numerous risk factors. We believe our role is to provide a web of support that builds resiliency in the child, supports the family and counteracts risk. Resiliency strengthens our vulnerability to risk factors and is known to be a key factor in coping with adversity and supporting mental health.

We believe education has a key role to play in providing opportunities to build resiliency and that as a specialist school we must provide a multi-layered package of support to our students and their families. It is only by ensuring physical and emotional safety that openness to learning can be achieved.

Staff training and support offered in school

SAL MANSFIELD : Mental Health Lead

JOE LEE : Safeguarding & Pastoral Lead

ABBY PITMAN : MDC Intervention Lead Worker & Mental Health First Aider

JANE PETERS : CRC Intervention Lead Worker & Mental Health First Aider

NATALIE CHAPMAN : Mental Health Lead Learner & Mental Health First Aider

RACHEL LYNCH : PowerUp+ Lead


Mental health information for parents

Young Minds are “the UK’s leading charity fighting for children and young people’s mental health”.


Parent’s support page includes

 The #Take20 Parents’ Hub : Talking to your child about how they’re feeling can be hard. By taking 20 minutes with them to do an activity you’ll both enjoy, you’ll create a relaxed space to start that conversation. Here are lots of fun activity ideas, conversation starters and handy tips, advice and resources to make talking easier.

Parents Guide To Support A-Z : Our A-Z gives you advice on how to help your child with specific mental health conditions, and life events which might be negatively affecting their wellbeing. We’ll also show you where you can get help.

Parents Lounge : Our Parents Helpline experts give their advice and tips on a range of topics chosen by you, from how to have difficult conversations with your child, to managing anxiety in children.

Parents Survival Guide : Parenting isn’t always easy. Although it’s often amazing and rewarding to watch your children grow, and to help them learn to be independent, it can also be really hard work.

Parents Helpline : Worried about a child or young person? Call our free helpline for confidential, expert advice.

Call the Parents Helpline: 0808 802 5544 (Monday to Friday 9.30am – 4pm, free for mobiles and landlines)


Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families are a children’s mental health charity who have been developing and delivering pioneering mental health care for over 60 years. “Our vision is a world where children and families are supported effectively to build on their strengths and to achieve their goals in life. We will continue to promote resilience and wellbeing in children, young people and families, as we have for over 60 years.”

Resources: for parents, by parents

Going forward, this page will offer resources and support for parents/carers that are co-designed and co-created by our Parent Champions and staff and the Centre.

Become a Parent Champion

Our Parent Champions support us to ensure that the views and experiences of parents and carers help shape how we deliver our mental health services.

We’re always on the lookout for mums and dads who are passionate about mental health and are interested in contributing to our projects and services. If you are a parent and have experience of caring for a child with mental health difficulties, or perhaps have experienced mental health issues yourself, we’d like to hear from you.

T: +44 (0)20 7794 2313


The Charlie Waller Memorial Trust (CWMT) was set up in 1997 in memory of Charlie Waller, a young man who took his own life whilst suffering from depression. Shortly after his death, his family founded the Trust in order to educate young people on the importance of staying mentally well and how to do so.

Our vision is of a world where people understand and talk openly about depression, where young people know how to maintain wellbeing, and where the most appropriate treatment is available to everyone who needs it.

They offer information guides free of charge for parents on the following topics:

Coping with self-harm

Coping with self-harm, a guide for parents and carers

Parent’s guide

A parent’s guide to depression

GCSE well-being guides

​GCSE well-being guides for teachers, pupils and parents

No Harm Done

​Three short films, co-created with young people, parents and professionals, reflecting their real-life experiences of self-harm.


Mind You – South Gloucestershire’s mental health and emotional wellbeing hub for young people.

Offers national and local information for parents/carers:

Parenting can be the most rewarding and the toughest of jobs.  We all want our children to be healthy and happy. Thinking about your child’s mental health and helping them to develop their ability to cope with life’s challenges is one of the most important things you can do.

Children with positive mental health are more likely to have good physical health and achieve academically, and are less likely to misuse drugs and alcohol.

Below you will find information, services and resources created especially for parents. Resources include how to support your child as well as how to look after your own well-being.

You can find information on specific mental health issues within the children’s and young people’s sections.


  • Signs to look out for
  • Off the Record – support for you and for young people
  •  South Gloucestershire’s mental health carers support group
  • Carers Support Centre
  • South Gloucestershire parents and carers with children with a special educational need and/or disability (SEND)
  • Jigsaw Thornbury
  • The Wellbeing College – courses for your wellbeing
  • Place2be – resources for parents and carers