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Supporting Mental Health in Schools: How You Can Make a Difference as a School Governor

With schools facing unprecedented mental health challenges among pupils due to the COVID-19 period, Governors for Schools are urging more people to help provide support by volunteering to become a school governor. The key message is that you don’t need to be a mental health professional to make mental health a priority in schools. 

Adapting to changing needs

The effects of lockdown on both children and school staff aren’t fully known, but we do know that when all children return to school, supporting their mental health after a period of huge change and uncertainty will be paramount.  

Governors will play a role in helping their schools get children back into the classroom safely, while balancing academic concerns with safeguarding and wellbeing challenges.  

Information about mental health is flooding social media, particularly LinkedIn, and rightly so. If you’ve read articles and seen the stats, and have been left wondering what you can do to help, your understanding of looking after children’s mental health will be useful to a school.  

Why will schools focus on mental health and wellbeing?  

Lockdown will have affected each child differently, but in particular, children may need support: 

  • Adjusting to a new routine after disruption to their usual day to day structure 
  • Getting used to being around people outside of their family and socialising again 

Some children may also be: 

  • Experiencing grief after losing friends or family members to the virus  
  • Experiencing anxiety around the virus and the way life has quickly changed 
  • Experiencing frustration at missing schools and friends 
  • Vulnerable and may have been at a greater safeguarding risk during the lockdown period  
  • Living with depression as a result of the change to their lives 

Who do schools need on their governing boards? 

You don’t need any specific qualifications to volunteer as a school governor. And you don’t need specific experience in mental health to help schools support children in that area. Any experience in mental health, whether as a first aider, or simply having an interest and understanding of its importance, will make a difference to a school.  

How can governors support mental health and wellbeing in schools? 

As a governor, you’ll help with the strategic side of running a school. This will include:  

  • Asking questions about how schools are supporting children’s and staff members’ wellbeing  
  • Ensuring there are clear policies around mental health and wellbeing  
  • Supporting the headteacher to avoid burnout after what has been a challenging time 

Apply to become a governor and start putting your experience and interests into action.  

This article was written by, and originally appeared on, Governors for Schools

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