With children’s mental health experiences at school proven to have long-lasting effects into later life, we caught up with child psychologist Dr Margot Sunderland to find out what school leadership teams can do to create a mentally healthy school for staff and students
Painful life experiences are, in most cases, the cause of mental ill-health – especially when there is no-one there to help a child make sense of, and work through, what happened; these are known as protective factors. This view is reinforced by one of the biggest public health studies of our time: The Adverse Childhood Experiences Study (ACE Study) which found that adverse childhood experiences are a leading determinant of all the major mental and physical illnesses in the Western world.
The more ACEs, without protective factors, a child has, the more vulnerable they are to developing a mental health problem. Furthermore, ACEs trigger what is known as ‘toxic stress’, which negatively impacts on the developing brain, the immune system and the endocrine system. However, mentally healthy schools can do so much to bring down toxic stress and interrupt the trajectory from adverse experiences to mental and physical ill-health.
So, what strategies and initiatives can schools invest in to provide those vital protective factors and bring down toxic stress to tolerable levels?
To learn more, read the full article, written by Marie Cahalane click on this link: The key components of a mentally healthy school