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Mental health and wellbeing: whole school approach: framework

A whole school approach framework for schools to support children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing.

Mental health and wellbeing: whole school approach: framework
C. A Whole school approach

C. A Whole school approach

There is a growing evidence base that schools need to take a whole school approach in order to promote mental health effectively. A whole school approach is preventative, universal and includes targeted interventions to ensure that all members of a school community can flourish and sustain a state of being mentally healthy. Taking a whole school approach can also achieve positive outcomes such as helping to reduce stigma and discrimination for those seeking help; support early intervention; promote positive mental health for all and improve the capacity of specialist services by providing support to those who need it at a universal and targeted level.

Diagram shows how a whole school approach feeds into the wider school picture. Along the top shows the 4 capacities of Curriculum for Excellence. Below that sits positive mental wellbeing which links to and from Curriculum for Excellence. The whole school approach section sits below that and includes columns on what is a whole school approach, why schools need one, what can help design one and how a school can evaluate one.

Infographic text below


Successful Learners

Confident Individuals

Responsible Citizens

Effective Contributors

Children and Young People

Positive Mental Health and Wellbeing

Whole School Approach

What is a WSA?

  • Collegiate leadership and management
  • Collegiate ethos and environment
  • Effective curriculum and learning and teaching
  • CYP voices and participation
  • Staff professional learning and Development
  • Identifying need and monitoring impact
  • Parents, carers and wider community engagement
  • Targeted support

Why do schools need a WSA?

  • Strengthens CYP wellbeing
  • Strengthens staff wellbeing
  • Promotes positive relationships and behaviour
  • Builds and strengthens resilience
  • Supports positive school ethos
  • Supports young peoples’ positive destinations
  • Helps to reduce stigma and discrimination
  • Supports early intervention and prevention

What can help design a WSA?

  • Leadership and management
  • Collegiate decision making
  • Staff professional learning
  • Ethos and environment
  • Effective curriculum with personalisation and choice
  • Engagement with CYP, parents and carers
  • Staff wellbeing and development
  • Identifying need and monitoring impact

How can a school evaluate their WSA?

  • HGIOS4
  • Applying Nuture as a Whole School approach — evaluation
  • Measurement of wellbeing indicators
  • Regular self evaluation
  • Pupil views
  • Staff views
  • Family/carers views

A whole school approach to mental health and wellbeing needs strong leadership to ensure that it can be taken forward across the whole school community. Other key factors include:

  • using a holistic model of health;
  • being proactive rather than reactive;
  • focusing on ethos, relationships, policies and pedagogy;
  • taking account of the wider contextual determinants of mental health and wellbeing;
  • involving parents/carers and wider community partners;
  • focusing on processes and not just programmes; and
  • developing skills in both staff and children, young people and parents.

Whole school approaches will: develop all staff's understanding and support skills in mental health and wellbeing (including leadership and management); develop resilience and mental, emotional, social and physical wellbeing in children and young people; help engage with and improve the capacity of parents and caregivers to understand and support mental health and wellbeing, and, work towards removing stigma and discrimination. A whole school approach to mental health and wellbeing also links well with whole school relationship-based and nurturing approaches, is trauma-informed and strengths-based.