Schools play a unique and key role in supporting children's mental health and wellbeing, which is underpinned by Getting It Right for Every Child (GIRFEC). This approach supports children and young people so that they can grow up feeling loved, safe and respected and can realise their full potential. Positive mental health and wellbeing can be supported using the GIRFEC wellbeing indicators, (Safe, Healthy, Achieving, Nurtured, Active, Respected, Responsible, Included) along with the Responsibility of All Experiences and Outcomes.
Multiple indicators suggest an increase in prevalence of mental health and wellbeing stressors for Scotland's children and young people, even prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, and that many young people are experiencing mental health stigma and discrimination.
This framework recognises that the school alone cannot and should not meet all the wellbeing needs of children and young people. Parents, carers, families and a range of partners in schools and the wider community play a role in meeting those needs. It sets out the range of factors involved in ensuring that the whole school community supports the wellbeing needs of its children and young people. A range of supports including the professional learning resource and the Mental Health Knowledge and Skills framework helps to build on the existing good practice on whole school approaches within the school environment.
Included in this framework are considerations for local authorites and guidance for schools to develop and embed policy and practice within schools and the wider community; underpinned by robust processes using universal, targeted and specialist interventions to ensure equity for all. Building resilience and support for children and young people will require school leaders to work with all staff, children and young people, parents and carers, and the wider community.
This framework is also intended to support schools in evaluating their own mental health and wellbeing approaches and developing plans to identify areas for improvement within the school community. It can augment national and local approaches to self-evaluation by providing a more explicit focus on a whole school approach to mental health and wellbeing.
The wider legislative and policy context within Scottish education emphasises the wellbeing of children and young people. See Appendix 1 for wider policy context.