A whole school approach to emotional and mental wellbeing recognises that every aspect of school life can impact on health and wellbeing. It involves not just what takes place in a classroom but in all of the day to day activities of the school, the relationships between people and the environment in which learning and activities take place. A successful whole school approach involves learners, parents and carers, staff and governors working together to improve wellbeing based on a good understanding of the needs of the school.
In March 2021 Welsh Government issued the framework embedding a whole-school approach to emotional and mental well-being as statutory guidance to governing bodies of maintained nursery, primary, secondary, middle, pupil referral units (PRUs), and special schools and local authorities in Wales. The framework aims to provide direction to address the emotional and mental well-being needs of all children and young people, as well as school staff as part of the whole-school community. It gives schools the opportunity, through a continuous improvement approach, to promote positive mental well-being, prevent mental ill health and to take action to support individuals where needed.
Guidance and tools are provided to support schools to self-evaluate their needs and strengths. This includes ensuring that the school has a clear mechanism overseen by the Senior Leadership Team to develop and monitor progress. From this an action plan will be created to address gaps and build on strengths identified. Schools will be expected to review the effectiveness of measures they have implemented. This whole continuous process of reflection and improvement should enable the school to embed ways of working that protect and promote the emotional and mental wellbeing of the whole school community.
Embedding a Whole School Approach to Emotional and Mental Well-being requires schools to develop a continuous process of reflection and improvement. By self-evaluating needs and strengths, schools can identify priority areas for action that specific interventions may help to address. The What Works Toolkit provides evidence summaries that are intended to help schools make informed decisions when choosing interventions to improve and promote mental well-being.
Public Health Wales, on behalf of Welsh Government, has examined the best available evidence for interventions to find out if they are effective in improving mental and or emotional well-being outcomes in learners or staff, when delivered in a school setting. Mental and emotional well-being outcomes can include self-confidence or self-esteem, emotional intelligence, and relationship skills, as well as more clinical outcomes such as anxiety. It is important that schools understand which well-being outcomes are expected to be supported by any intervention, and how this aligns with their unique needs and action plan.
Find out more about the interventions reviewed, the methodology used and how using this evidence can support decision-making by visiting Welsh Government Hwb.
The What Works Toolkit resource will be added to and updated over time. The interventions reviewed are not endorsed by Welsh Government or Public Health Wales.