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Paul's story

Paul's story

Headteacher Paul on how our Senior Mental Health Leads training has helped him implement a whole-school approach to mental health in his school.

The real learning I’ve taken from the programme is to make a culture of talking about mental health and ensuring staff are brave enough to check in with each other that they’re okay.

Paul Brown has been Headteacher at Bransgore Church of England Primary School for 10 years and is passionate about making his school the best place for people to work. He is working hard to raise mental health awareness amongst his staff and create a culture where people can be as open as possible.

"I’ve always taken the mental health of pupils and staff seriously, and I think it’s important to keep an eye on trends around mental health and wellbeing, to predict where pressures might come from, e.g. the cost of living crisis. I aim to make the school the best place for people to work."

"Since completing Place2Be’s Senior Mental Health Leads programme, the school has employed an independent listener for three hours a week. Staff can go for a walk, have a coffee, or phone conversation with them. We encourage staff to celebrate and talk about something that has gone well or discuss any real wins they've had."

"We are enrolling all staff on Place2Be’s Mental Health Champions – Foundation programme, and we’ve got a gratitude board in the staffroom called the 'wall of love'. People can put things up on the board that they’re grateful for, such as positive feedback from parents and carers. There’s also a 'shout-outs' wall next to it, where staff can thank each other, as gratitude is really important."

"We have a VIP scheme for the children, where every child gets one week of being celebrated for who they are. They get lots of praise and a special certificate, and their parents come and listen to an assembly about how fantastic they are. The message is about celebrating differences, raising self-esteem and encouraging children to be empathetic, kind and welcoming to people who are different, which has been highly effective."

"We’ve also done a lot of coaching about approaching people you’re worried about. We have a real coaching culture in the school, and now we have coaching for wellbeing to get people talking, which works well. We’re as solution-focused as possible, so if something is wrong, we think about what we can do to improve it and try to empower people. People now come to me with problems and solutions, which is a result of the training."

You can put any initiative in place, but if the culture isn’t there, it’s not seen as valuable and will just fall away quickly.

"I chose to do the training with Place2Be because I trust them. As a member of the NAHT (National Association of Head Teachers), I’ve met many of the staff who have found their work inspiring and coming from the right place regarding moral purpose, so I felt like Place2Be was a trustworthy organisation. Their primary business is mental health, so we thought we would go with someone who is a specialist."

"Overall, the learning was engaging and not too time-consuming. It felt like time well spent, and I would 100% recommend the programme."

Learn about our Senior Mental Health Leads training programme, or sign up for our free Mental Health Champions - Foundation programme today.

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