D. The role of the local authority in supporting a whole school approach
Most Scottish schools exist within a local authority context and the local authority has a key role to play in partnership with the school in the development of an overall culture and ethos of acceptance and de-stigmatisation of mental health. Crucially this includes supporting schools to develop whole school approaches to mental health and wellbeing. This could be achieved through:
- Having clear alignment in the approach to mental health between the different departments within the local authority. This will contribute to a coherent whole systems approach that is responsive to local social and economic circumstances. This alignment should be reflected in local authority policy, guidance and reporting including in the Children's Service Plan. There are many risk factors that can contribute to poor mental health and it is vital that partnerships are in place to support the mental health of individuals and families across the local authority.
- Supporting staff wellbeing at all levels and ensuring clear pathways for support at a corporate level including Human Resources and Occupational Health, along with links to national supports.
- Working closely with partners, including trade unions, to ensure high-quality professional learning opportunities are available that respond to need.
- Listening to and acting upon the views of children, and young people, and staff, including those with lived experience of mental health and wellbeing needs, when implementing the approach.
- Taking a clear and consistent approach to quality assurance and self-evaluation that emphasises the importance of mental health and wellbeing.
- Using data effectively to help identify where needs lie within their own context and ensuring any approaches to supporting mental health and wellbeing are carefully evaluated for evidence of impact and shared with others. Local authorities can support the collection of meaningful data through partnerships with networks, and the Health and Wellbeing census will also support the collection of data.
Mental health and wellbeing should be promoted and championed by all leaders within the local authority and this should be demonstrated through their values and practice, including how staff are supported with their own mental health, and how mental health stigma and discrimination is addressed. Local authority staff need to support a clear balance between attainment and wellbeing in schools and seek to ensure that wider achievement and flexible positive destinations are valued equally. The young person should be put at the centre of decision making about any future learner pathway.