Parent FAQ – Supporting my Child’s Mental Health and Wellbeing

Through parent consultation via our Wellbeing Award Change team we had a suggestion that parents would value a Frequently Asked Questions page where they can more easily find information and advice on a specific worry or concern they may have.  We hope this will prove useful and are open to further feedback and ideas on any further FAQ’s we could add.  Please email qmarys@qmhs.org.uk for the attention of Mrs Connell if you have any further FAQ’s

Q Who do I speak to in school if I’m worried about my child?
A This can depend on what your concerns are.  In most cases the first port of call is to contact the pastoral welfare coordinators who can listen to your worries and then signpost more accordingly.  Your child’s form tutor or head of year can also offer guidance and support for more academically natured worries.

You can either phone the school number and ask to speak to the relevant person or email qmarys@qmhs.org.uk.  If you put in the subject line FAO: <Staff name> the email will get passed on.  Your child’s form tutor will also be able to support you with any low level worries you may have.

 

Pastoral Welfare Coordinators – Mrs Debbie Plimmer and Mrs Jo York.  Supported by Mrs Glenys Talbot

 

Head of Year 7 – Miss E Postles

Head of Years 8 and 9 – Miss N Ayres

Head of Year 10 and 11 – Miss M Emery

Head of Years 12 and 13 – Dr B Darwood

 

Assistant Head Teacher (Community) for more serious welfare or safeguarding concerns – Mrs D Connell

Q Who do I speak to if I’m worried about my child’s mental health?
A Our pastoral welfare coordinators Mrs Plimmer and Mrs York are very experienced in supporting students and their families.   They are Mental Health First Aid England trained so can offer an initial supportive conversation before deciding whether to support you and your child themselves or signpost more expert clinical advice.

 

The Walsall school nursing service can offer help and advice to both parents and young people and signpost the most relevant clinical levels of support.

 

There are lots of other organisations that can also offer help and support.   Just a few are:

Place to Be are a charity committed to improving children’s mental health

Charlie Waller Trust

NSPCC

Young Minds

Kooth is also an excellent organisation to support young people with their mental health if they cannot or do not feel ready to seek in person support.

 

If your child is in crisis then you need to contact your GP or go to A&E in an emergency

Q What support is available for my child at school?
A We offer different tiers of support in school.

Peer Support – We have a team of sixth form mental health ambassadors who deliver the peer educator project to year 7’s in lessons and form time and are also available to chat and support fellow students. Students can find information on these on the notice board outside M11.  We also have Youth Peer Mentors (YPM’s) assigned to KS3 form groups who deliver activities and are also available to offer support.  In addition, we have extracurricular groups, subject prefects and house captains.

Form Tutor – Students see their form tutor at the start of every day.  Students can speak to them for help and advice.  They may then direct them to other members of staff for further support.

Head of Year – Students can speak directly to their head of year or email them to arrange a time to see them.

Pastoral Welfare Coordinators – Mrs Plimmer and Mrs York are there for a supporting chat and will offer a listening ear.  Again, students can pop and see them or email them to arrange a time to talk.

Pastoral Support Liaison Assistant – Mrs Glenys Talbot.  Glen operates an open door policy and is our on the ground ‘First Aider’ (or superheroine some may say) to look after anyone who may be upset or not feeling well.

Academic and Pastoral Support Mentor – Miss Gogna provides academic support and mentoring.  With a degree and masters in psychology she also has a very good understanding of supporting students with their emotional needs and how this relates to their academic outcomes.  Referrals are made via the Head of year or subject leaders.

LRC staff – Mrs Groves and Mrs White work in the library but also offer emotional support and guidance for students.  Mrs Groves also oversees our LGBTQ Pride group.  Both at are Mental Health First Aid Trained

Pastoral Support and SEND Assistant – Mrs M Prosser supports our SENDCo and works closely with some of our SEND pupils.  She also delivers 1:1 Emotional Literacy Support (ELSA). Referrals to ELSA sessions are made via our SENDCo Miss Houlder and HOY. This leaflet will provide more information.

Counselling – We do offer counselling support for some students in school.  This is via WPH which is based on Lichfield Street and we also have a counsellor who works on site up to 2 days a week.  Referrals are made via the pastoral welfare coordinators or Assistant Headteacher (Community).

Clinical Therapy – The Mercian and Q3 academy trust has invested in employing a team of clinical therapists who we can access for support.  They include occupational therapists, a music therapist, a speech and language therapist and an educational psychologist.  Referrals are made via the SENDCo or Assistant Headteacher (Community).

Q What is included in the curriculum on mental health matters?
A Your child will learn about mental health in PSHCEE lessons as well as during form time, especially during our regular Mental Health Awareness Week. The content will always be age appropriate and encourage positive conversations around mental health and wellbeing. Each year group will receive information about ways to enhance their own wellbeing as well as places to go for support and older age groups will be given information about specific disorders. The overall aim is to equip students to have healthy conversations around mental health and identify that mental health is as important as physical health. The full curriculum outline for each year group can be found on the school website under the heading Curriculum. If you would like more information or have a suggestion, please contact qmarys@qmhs.org.uk with PSHCEE as the heading.
Q Are there quiet spaces my child can work in at school if she needs to?
A Our LRC can offer a quiet and safe space for students.  It is open from 8am and at break and lunch times.  Students may also work there after school until 5pm Mon – Thursday and 4.30pm on a Friday.

Our Pastoral support staff can also offer a quiet space if a child feels overwhelmed and needs a few minutes’ time out

Space is at a premium at QMHS but we always do our best to ensure a child’s needs are met.

Q Does my child have to book an appointment to speak to someone for help?
A No – they can pop and speak in person to any member of staff.  We operate very much on an open door policy.

However, we recognise it can sometimes be difficult to do this so they are always welcome to email staff to arrange a time to see them.

Q Do I  have to book an appointment to speak to someone for help regarding my child?
A Yes please.  As we are sure you can appreciate, Heads of Year have teaching commitments and other commitments as do our support staff. Therefore, if you phone to make an appointment you will be able to ensure you can see a member of staff.

If there is an emergency and you need to speak to someone urgently we will of course try to accommodate your needs but you may not be able to speak to the best person at this point.

Q Are there members of staff in school who can diagnose mental health or Special Educational Needs?
A No, we are not clinically trained so cannot diagnose any conditions.  This has to be done via your GP who can make a referral to the appropriate expert.

We have a team of mental health first aiders who can often identify traits and early signs and may get in touch with parents to suggest a GP appointment is made.  The school nursing service can also offer advice on this.

We can offer some ‘screening tests’ for dyslexia and dyscalculia. Please contact our SENDCo for more information.

Q What wider support can the school access or signpost?
A We work with a number of agencies who support students in school and we can also signpost families to outside of school.  This is not a definitive list but some agencies we have worked with are:

Cherished – Supporting girls to feel seen, soothed and secure

WPH counselling – We offer a limited number of counselling slots for pupils with WPH.  Referrals can also be made privately or via your GP

Mermaids – Helping gender diverse kids, young people and their families

Walsall school nursing – offering a wide range of help and support on any health needs

Black Country Women’s Aid – Offering support for victims of domestic abuse or sexual assault

Street teams – Offering support with potential exploitation

NSPCC – Advice helpline for parent and pupils

Samaritans – Advice helpline for anyone in distress and in danger of suicide

Young Minds – Offering help and advice for parents and young people on prevention as well as signposting further help and support

Charlie Waller Trust – Offering help and advice for young people and parents.  They also offer regular workshops on supporting your child and talking about Mental health

Tips for parents of LGBT children

Stonewall – Tips if you think your child may be LGBT

Sleep foundation website – Facts and advice around the benefits of sleep and some tips on how to improve sleep for teens

Insight Timer offers a range of different relaxation techniques children can listen to.

Beateatingdisorders.co.uk  – Advice and guidance on exacting disorders

The National Autistic Society and Autism West Midlands  – Advice, guidance and resources on understanding and supporting

Autism.

Kooth is also an excellent organisation to support young people with their mental health if they cannot or do not feel ready to seek in person support.

Q My daughter tells me they are LGBTQ+.  How can I support them?
A Listen and be understanding of their emotions.  Breaking the news to parents can be one of the scariest moments of coming out.  So show them you want to listen and understand and love them unconditionally.  The fear of not being accepted by their parents can be a great cause of worry and stress that can lead to poor mental health and wellbeing.

Here are some useful scholarly articles which may be helpful.

Tips for parents of LGBT

Stonewall – Tips if you think your child may be LGBT

We have a Pride group in school which is led by student ambassadors – some students identify as LGBTQ, some are questioning and exploring and others are allies. You could encourage your child to come along for help and support.  They can also speak to our LRC manager Mrs Groves who oversees the group and is a great ally to the students.

We also work closely with the charity Just Like Us.  You can see a project we have been involved with them on here.

Q My daughter tells me she wants to use different pronouns.  What should I do?
A We can offer support in school if a pupil wishes to change their name or pronoun.

Please speak to your child’s head of year who can support you and your child in changing preferred names or pronouns in school.

We have a guidance document on our website on how we support any Trans or questioning students in school with advice from the charity Just Like Us.

Q I think my child may be being bullied.  What should I do?
A It is important that you speak to your child’s head of year or one of our pastoral welfare officers as soon as you have any concerns.  Please also encourage your child to speak to the members of staff directly including their form tutor.

They will listen to your concerns and fully investigate them – including speaking to your child and offering help and support.

We have a strong culture of kindness and respect and therefore work hard to prevent any unkindness or bullying.  However, we are not naive to suggest it never happens (but it is rare).

We have a team of student Anti Bullying Ambassadors who a child can also speak to if they feel someone is being unkind to them.

Q My child is being trolled.  What should I do?
A Get as much evidence as you can about the issues – screenshots and examples of messages that have been sent and when.

Report and block the ‘troll’ or ‘bully’ using the mechanism in each social media platform.

We urge all parents to monitor social media usage.  If a child knows they are being checked they are less likely to be unkind

Get in touch with our pastoral welfare officers or head of year to report any issues between members of our school community.

Q Should I allow my child to have a mobile phone and use social media?
A There are many benefits to having a mobile phone in the modern world.  It provides a level of security for parents and carers in being able to know where your child is.

Phones can also be a very useful way in allow children to connect with their friends via the online world and be an important part of self care for teens.

However,

It is important to set boundaries and agree with your child that you will monitor their activities online and agree times when they will not be able to use their phone.

We would advise that you check the apps that they download and use so that you can protect them from any online trolls or from potential grooming.

Q How can I monitor my child’s social media usage?
A Most importantly it is advised that your child knows and understands why you will monitor their online usage.

There are a number of different apps and software available to monitor your child’s usage and location.  It will depend on their level of usage and the freedom you want to allow on which mechanism you may choose to use.

Q My child isn’t sleeping.  How can I support them?
A We don’t want to tell you how to parent and acknowledge that all families have their own routines and commitments.

This sleep foundation website has some useful facts around the benefits of sleep and some tips on how to improve sleep for teens which includes:

–          Budgeting eight hours of sleep into your daily schedule and keeping that same schedule on both weekdays and weekends.

–          Creating a consistent pre-bed routine to help with relaxation and falling asleep fast.

–          Avoiding caffeine and energy drinks, especially in the afternoon and evening.

–          Putting away electronic devices for at least a half-hour before bed and keeping them on silent mode to avoid checking them during the night.

–          Setting up your bed with a supportive mattress that’s the best mattress for you. And don’t forget to bring your best pillow.

–          Keeping your bedroom cool, dark, and quiet.

Our school counsellor has recommended a useful website called Insight Timer which offers a range of different relaxation techniques children can listen to.  We would advise playing them on a different device to the child’s own mobile phone and removing this once they are asleep.

Q I suspect my child may have an eating disorder.  What should I do?
A There is a really good website Beateatingdisorders.co.uk where you can find help and guidance.

You can seek help and advice from your GP or the school nursing service.

As a school we want to support you and your child so please get in touch with your child’s head of year or our pastoral welfare officers.  Each case is different so we will work with families to ensure the most appropriate support is put in place in a timely manner.

Q My child is worrying about upcoming assessments.  What can I do to support them?
A Help them make a revision timetable and have a routine.  It is important they maintain healthy eating and sleeping patterns.

We have Thinking Thursday’s in the form time programme where pupils will have been given effective study techniques to use.  Engage with them or ask them to share with you some of the methods they are finding useful.

Help them to put things into perspective.  Assessments are a tool to identify a child’s current level of learning and understanding.

We are here to learn and celebrate the love of learning.  Outcomes of assessments will be used by teachers to inform future learning.

Our Edukit well-being surveys often flag up exam pressure as an area of concern and it is fear of letting down a teacher or parent that worries children the most.

We want students to want to do well but not at the detriment of their health as they will certainly not then do well!

 

The Insight Timer app has some great pre-recorded meditations.  Just choose the ‘discover’ tab and put ‘exam’ in the search box and choose ‘tracks’.

Q How can I support my grieving child?
A Bereavement is different for every child or adult

It is important to maintain as much routine as possible and attending school regularly is part of this routine.

Please contact the head of year or pastoral welfare officer if you have suffered a bereavement and we will work with families to put the most appropriate help and support in place.

There are also fantastic charities that can help and support – Child Bereavement UK and Winston’s Wish are ones we have experience of working with.

Q I suspect my child is demonstrating ASD traits.  What should I do?
A You can contact our SENDCo Miss Houlder who will be happy to talk this through with you.  We cannot diagnose ASD so we would advise making an appointment with your GP for a referral to an expert.

Waiting times are very long for CAMHS appointments where ASD assessments are carried out.

By working with our SENDCo we can start to put support in place before a potential diagnosis is made.

There are some helpful fact files on our SEND webpage that may be helpful

The National Autistic Society and Autism West Midlands both offer lots of resources to help.

Q My child keeps changing friendship groups.  Is this normal?
A Yes.  Every child will have a different experience of friendships.  Some may find their friendship ‘match’ within the first few weeks of being at school and others may take longer to settle into a group of friends.

If your child is struggling to make friendship connections, encourage them to join one of our many clubs on offer when they can potentially meet people and make friends with students who have similar hobbies and interests.

If your child gets upset when they fall out with a friend, be led by them and listen to their worries and reassure them there will be someone in the school they can get along with.  It just might take a bit of time to find the ‘friends’ they will get on best with.   Our pastoral liaison officer Mrs Talbot (Glen) can help students with this as can the pastoral welfare officers, form tutors and heads of year.