6.1 A whole school approach
Glazzard and Bostwick (2018) outline how schools can address mental health through the curriculum as a way of reducing stigma and increasing pupils’ knowledge about topics including anxiety, depression, self-harm and resilience. As well as increasing knowledge, an aim of the whole school approach is to help children to develop strategies that help them to reduce the impact of factors or feelings that may impact negatively on their mental health. In addition, children are encouraged to be aware of and sensitive to other peers who may be experiencing such difficulties.
The curriculum of a school that is taking a whole school approach to promoting positive mental health includes opportunities for children to engage in play, physical activities, art, music, dance and drama. It is also important to include opportunities for discussions about gender and identity, race and ethnicity, religion and belief systems as well as disabilities and their impact, which can inform children about difference. By doing so, children who feel ‘different’, perhaps because of a disability for example, may feel a greater sense of belonging.
Developing effective policies that are aimed at addressing children’s wellbeing and mental health is a way that schools can work together and take a whole school approach. Policies relating to children’s wellbeing and mental health are discussed in the next section.