Former Northampton headteacher backs schools mental health programme after it ‘changed children’s lives’

The programme help teachers spot the early signs of mental health issues in children to then take early action

Thursday, 21st October 2021, 10:46 am
Updated Thursday, 21st October 2021, 10:48 am
Lorna Beard (right) is now rolling the programme out to other schools in the trust.

A former Northampton headteacher is backing a schools mental health programme as she says it has ‘changed children’s lives’.

Lorna Beard used to be the headteacher at Castle Academy in St George's Street, Northampton, which was the first primary school to sign up to the St Andrew’s School Mental Wellness Programme called LightBulb.

The programme, which can also be used in secondary schools, was written by teachers from St Andrew’s College.

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It has been designed to help teachers spot the early signs of mental health issues in children and then take appropriate early action.

Lorna is now rolling the programme out across East Midlands Academy Trust’s other six schools.

She said: “According to figures published a few years ago, mental health numbers have gone up among children, from one in ten in 2004 to one in nine in 2017 and that was before the pandemic.

“Since then, lockdown, school closures, disruptive home environments and disturbing news stories have all played a part in affecting our children’s mental health so now is the time to start taking action and putting interventions in place to help them, before it’s too late.

Ellie Finch, who is Castle Academy’s mental health lead, with children.

“LightBulb was a hit from the start and helped us to build on the work already happening within the school around mental health.

“We quickly saw significant improvements across our staff, students and parents. Everyone felt more supported, reassured and more confident in spotting the signs and seeking the appropriate help.

“Having seen first-hand the difference LightBulb has made I can confidently say it’s changed children’s lives and will go a very long way in providing the building blocks for openly talking about worries and concerns which if left, could have devastating outcomes in the long-term.”

LightBulb provides a ready-made framework for schools so those that participate can demonstrate and showcase excellence regarding mental health practice to regulatory bodies such as Ofsted.

Once signed up, the school receives mental health awareness and support training for all school staff as well as sessions for both parents and students. Each session talks about symptoms, support and signposts resources.

Cheryl Smith, headteacher of the St Andrew’s College, added: “At St Andrew’s we care for some very poorly young people who have not received the help they needed until it was too late, leading to them needing to come into hospital.

“It is a worrying situation and the role schools can play is recognising and supporting mental wellbeing is paramount in ensuring young people have access to support when it is most needed.

“As a team, we wanted to find a way to target young people and try and equip them with the skills they need to be resilient and seek help about mental health issues, hopefully reducing the distress they experience and positively impacting the outcomes they experience.

“We believe early intervention is essential and can make a huge difference to the wellbeing of those children who are experiencing mental health issues.

For more information click here or to sign up to LightBulb email [email protected]