Empowering teachers

Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU) held a conference looking at children’s mental health in schools and the effect that this can have on teachers.

The conference looked to help prepare future primary schools teachers in the area of mental health, which brought together stakeholders from across the region and nationally.

This year’s conference looked at such issues special care children and refugee children’s needs, female genital mutilation, looked after children and trans children.

The conference also highlighted how trainee teachers can be empowered to be able to ‘do something’, even if it is simple awareness, signposting or embedding good mental health practice in their teaching through the use of storytelling.

The conference also addressed the issue of increased numbers of teachers leaving the profession within the first five years and looking into putting into place training for teachers to look after their own mental health.

Conference delegate, Gary Borrows who is currently coming to the end of his PGDE Trainee year at LJMU and specialising in the early years course, said: “It was a very good conference talking about these issues of health and wellbeing for both teachers and students and to focus on what we can practically do and to put in place in our classrooms and learning environments to deal with these issues.

“I think that something like that is the piece of the puzzle that is often missing, certainly in conversations I have had this year in different settings, what do we do about children that are suffering with depression or anxiety or how do I deal with my own mental burnout.

“Before undertaking this course I spoke to a lot of my friends who are in the education sector, including two very close friends who have left teaching within the last five years because of issues around mental and physical health with the workload.

“There is certainly a need for this type of programme because you have to be in the classroom to see that it is real and I know of two or three pupils in my class that have genuine anxiety, its just an emotional issue for them and their mental health and wellbeing having to come into school and these are very young children.

“One of the key messages that came of the conference, for me, was are they unaware of the workload as a issue? You can accept the workload if the other factors that might affect your mental wellbeing are looked after, how you fit into the community or are you being recognized or praised for the work that you are doing.

“There are many factures involved and the conference talked the school culture being the number one facture in why teachers have lower levels of mental health and wellbeing, not the workload, I found that really interesting.

“Today has certainly given me a few things to come away with and say OK what have been the key things that have effected my own health and wellbeing in school and what strategies and action plans can I bring in place to deal with it.

“This also helps us in what to look for in children and how to help make sure that we are doing our best to look after these vulnerable children”.

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