The Mentally Healthy Schools Workbook – transform the wellbeing of your school

We’re delighted to have partnered up with our friends at Jessica Kingsley Publishers to run a fantastic competition for our upcoming Schools & Academies Show Birmingham. Each week, we’ll feature a blog on a topical education book on our website (provided by Jessica Kingsley Publishers)

After the our show we’ll be entering one lucky person the chance to win ALL of the books we feature. The winner will be announced after the The Schools & Academies Show taking place on 13th – 14th November at NEC, Birmingham.

After our show, we’ll be entering our group attendees (groups of 3+) into a draw to win ALL of the books we feature. To enter this draw simply register a group of your colleagues. Tickets are free of charge – register for your group booking here

Pooky Knightsmith has a PhD in child mental health from the Institute of Psychiatry and is the current vice chair of the Children and Young People’s Mental Health Coalition. Her latest book, ‘The Mentally Healthy Workbook for Schools’ is the perfect starting point for anyone looking to promote and encourage mental health in their school, or evaluate their existing provision, in line with current government priorities and government plans to have a mental health lead in every school and college by 2025.

It covers not only the day-to-day practical steps you can take to meet the mental health needs of learners, but also provides a whole bank of ideas for ensuring you adopt a whole-school approach to positive mental health.

Read an extract of Pooky’s introduction below:

Before you get into the nitty gritty of this book and think about the practical steps you can take to meet the mental health needs of the learners in your school, I invite you first to think of your own needs. We’re not always very good at that; the teaching and caring professions are renowned for attracting people who are kind, caring, altruistic and often teetering on the edge of physical or emotional burnout – often because we care too much. We’re often very good at looking after others, but less good at looking after ourselves. But we matter too.

Isn’t it selfish to put myself first?

Looking after yourself isn’t selfish; far from it. When we practise good self-care, we’re acting as role models to the children in our care. Furthermore, when we look after ourselves well, we better enable ourselves to look after others – which is about as selfless as you can get. Besides which, if we don’t take time to look after ourselves, it always catches up with us in the end – especially those of us who give of ourselves so freely in supporting others. In the end, we physically or mentally burn out, at best leaving us unable to be our best selves at home and work, and at worst forcing us to completely withdraw.

You are a role model

Ask yourself what lesson you are teaching to your students through your actions. You can work as hard as you like to put together comprehensive schemes of work and lesson plans that teach students about self-care; but if you don’t practise what you preach, these lessons will often ring hollow.

‘She was teaching us about the importance of sleep but she yawned her way through the whole thing!’

If you truly believe in the recommendations you’re making to students and your students can see you living by those beliefs and ideas, they’re more likely to listen and copy. The learning we impart to students goes far beyond timetabled teaching in the classroom – prioritising your own self-care is one way to encourage students to do the same for themselves.

“Pooky Knightsmith is the measured, pragmatic voice of reason that mental health in schools needs.”

Natasha Devon MBE, Mental Health Campaigner

The Mentaly Healthy Schools Workbook: Practical Tips, Ideas, Action Plans and Worksheets for Making Meaningful Change by Pooky Knightsmith. Foreword by Norman Lamb, is published by JKP and available to purchase here.

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