It is now widely acknowledged that mental health and wellbeing are as essential as physical health to the positive life chances of children and young people and the wider population. Protecting mental health at an early age is vitally important to ensure future mental wellbeing and resilience. This has become even more important as the country responds to the ongoing pandemic. We recognise the very important role that schools are currently playing, and the hard work which all school staff have done, in supporting children and young people's mental health at this time. As we move forward through the phases of this pandemic, there will be a continued focus on good mental wellbeing, and on ensuring that the right help and support is available whenever it is needed. Recognising that teachers and school staff are not mental health professionals, this framework is intended to provide schools with guidance to assist in the continued support of children and young people's mental health and wellbeing. The mental health and wellbeing of all staff, as well as children and young people, is key to the whole school approach.
The Scottish Government's Mental Health Transition and Recovery Plan emphasises a health-promoting and preventative approach to mental health and wellbeing. Education has a large part to play in this approach through raising awareness and understanding and supporting the positive mental health of children and young people. Schools can play a key part in helping society recognise that there is a wide continuum of mental health and wellbeing and that children and young people will move across this at different points in their life as challenges and other internal and external factors affect them. Schools can also play a key role in supporting good mental health through practice and clear referral pathways should additional support be required. Education staff working alongside other agencies and the wider public health network can make a significant difference in changing perceptions and developing support for mental health and wellbeing.
The Mental Health in Schools Working Group, on behalf of Scottish Ministers, has produced this framework to support local authorities and schools embed support for children and young people's mental health and wellbeing across all aspects of the school environment. The framework provides guidance on approaches that can be undertaken; it is not intended to be a prescriptive guide. It can be used by schools to complement or strengthen existing approaches in place recognising that many schools have already undertaken a significant amount of work in this area.
We hope that you find this framework useful in your ongoing support for children and young people's mental health and wellbeing. We would be really interested to hear your feedback on the framework so that we can ensure it is meeting the needs of your school, your learners, your staff and your wider community.
Chair – Mental Health in Schools Working Group