As part of Mental Health Awareness Week – 18-24 May children’s charity, Barnardo’s Scotland and Public Health Scotland, have launched a new film for everyone involved in educating children and young people – ‘It’s All About Relationships: Embedding relational, trauma sensitive approaches in education settings’.
The film, a collaboration between Barnardo’s Scotland and Public Health Scotland, highlights practical examples and tips that education staff can build into their everyday practice to support positive relationships with young people. Relationships between staff and pupils will be even more important as considerations are made about when to reopen schools following the Covid-19 lockdown, now more than ever, education environments which are relational and trauma-sensitive will be crucial.
Deputy First Minister John Swinney said: “Children’s mental, emotional and physical wellbeing are the foundations of successful learning. I welcome this video demonstrating the innovative ways schools and others are helping improve young people’s health and wellbeing with the support of Attainment Scotland Funding.
“The positive relationships highlighted in the film will be crucial in supporting children and families once schools return. We are providing schools with Attainment Scotland funding flexibility to help best support the education, health and wellbeing and care of children and young people during the response to the Covid-19 and beyond.
“We know that during this difficult time the mental health of pupils can be put under great strain. Our Clear Your Head campaign looks to ensure the right help and support is in place and through this we have provided funding to Young Scot to develop online mental health resources. We are also working with the Spark organisation to deliver counselling services for children and young people throughout this challenging period.”
Barnardo’s Scotland and Public Health Scotland believe good quality relationships are vital for wellbeing, growth and health; especially when a child has experienced adversity or trauma. Education staff have the power to create and foster a culture of warmth, nurture, kindness and positive relationships within their environments.
‘It’s All About Relationships: Embedding relational, trauma sensitive approaches in education settings’ originated when Barnardo’s Scotland staff working in schools notice that those working in Education were becoming more aware of the impact of childhood adversity and trauma through training and awareness raising, but many were looking for practical advice about how to bring this to life in their everyday practice.
Martin Crewe, Director of Barnardo’s Scotland, said: “Relationships are key to creating safe, nurturing environments which help support children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing. We are all dealing with the immediate impact of COVID-19 and we must focus on emotional support to enable our children to cope with the present challenges and build their resilience for the future.
“So, although this film was developed before the Covid-19 pandemic, it is now more relevant than ever. This crisis is impacting on the mental health and wellbeing of our entire population; we are seeing high levels of individual and community trauma. It is imperative that when children return to school we prioritise their mental health and emotional wellbeing.
“There has been fantastic work going on in schools across Scotland prior to the pandemic to place relationships at the heart of children’s educational experiences. When children and young people return to school this will be even more vital. We hope this film will support and encourage good practice and help all those working in Education to think about how strong, positive relationships can support good mental health in our children and young people.”
The film was shown for the first time during an online Webinar on 20 May with a panel of guest speakers including trainer and author Lisa Cherry. The film is now available to view online on Barnardo’s You Tube Channel and at www.healthscotland.scot/nurturingrelationships
Lisa Cherry, leading international trainer and consultant, specialising in assisting professionals working with vulnerable children and families said: “We are faced with a real opportunity, right now, to ensure that at the heart of our schools the whole school community can find safety, belonging and connection in the face of loss, anxiety and uncertainty. High quality relationships provided by staff who work in settings where their own wellbeing and nurturing is at the core, will ensure that children can emerge from this pandemic from a place of adversarial growth. That schools do not add to harm but rather seek to heal from it, ought to be a mantra that we can all anchor ourselves to.”
Barnardo’s Scotland and Public Health Scotland would encourage schools and all education staff involved with children and young people to watch and use the new resource as part of training and Continual Professional Development.
Key concepts within the film such as building strong relationships; creating a safe environment and a positive culture; and supporting staff health and wellbeing will be absolutely crucial to ensure children and young people have a positive transition back into Education settings when schools begin to re-open after the Covid-19 lockdown.