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What is WAMHS?
The Wellbeing and Mental Health in Schools (WAMHS) project is a new initiative led by the CAMHS Alliance with the support of the Children and Young People’s Integrated Commissioning work stream City & Hackney.
This innovative project aims to improve mental health and wellbeing support for children and young people in schools, colleges, specialist and alternative provision education settings in City & Hackney.
The WHAMS pilot project will begin in September 2018 and will run for an initial 15 months. There are 80 maintained schools in City and Hackney and 40 of these settings are participating.
The impact of the pilot project will be evaluated by Public Health City and Hackney, with a view to extending the offer to remaining eligible schools in both boroughs.
Why did we start WAMHS?
Schools are reporting higher numbers of students having difficulties managing their emotions, making the most of their learning and life opportunities at school and coping with the stresses of life both in and out of school.
Research shows that positive health and education outcomes are closely related. School staff may be one of the first to notice emerging mental health difficulties. In its recent Green Paper the Government stressed the importance of schools and mental health services working more closely together to make sure that children and young people who need help with their mental health are able to get it when they need it.
The WAMHS Project will support schools to be settings where children and young people can learn about all areas of life. WAMHS will focus on building academic, social and emotional resilience and coping skills in students and help them identify and access additional help if needed. The project will also upskill staff in schools so that they are more confident and feel more able to support students, and their families, who may be experiencing mental health difficulties.
How will WAMHS be set up?
Schools and settings in City and Hackney participating in the WAMHS project will have:
- A senior member of school staff as their Designated Mental Health Lead coordinating mental health and emotional wellbeing in the school.
- A Wellbeing Framework Partner, a skilled education professional from Hackney Learning Trust who will help each school review their current provision and develop an action plan across a number of areas (see Figure 1) to improve the support systems for mental health and wellbeing in school.
- An allocated mental health practitioner from Child and Adolescent Mental Health services (CAMHS) who’s role will not be to work individually with students but to provide support and oversight for the settings which may include:
- Attending regular planning meetings in schools to support holistic thinking around student need
- Provide training to increase staff awareness and knowledge in the early identification and support of students’ mental health difficulties
- Development of skills in managing the impact these difficulties can have in a school setting
- Consultation to support further understanding of need in students and advise and support setting staff
- Support involvement with appropriate external services so schools feel confident in referring students if needed and if agreed with the student’s parent/carer.
Figure 1. Wellbeing Framework
For further information on WAMHS please speak to the Designated Mental Health Lead in your school or setting or email: firstname.lastname@example.org