A new campaign to support thousands of children and young people returning to school has been launched in the West Mindlands.
The #YouveBeenMissed campaign provides new accessible resources, videos and guidance to promote early help support, assessments and plans for the emotional wellbeing of pupils returning to school.
New evidence based resources for young people, parents, teachers and educational professionals have been created by experts to support those returning to their classrooms. They include support for families and carers through resources such as tools for young people and adults to use, videos and webinars.
The project is being driven collaboratively by the Forward Thinking Birmingham mental health service (part of Birmingham Women’s and Children’s NHS Foundation Trust), Birmingham City Council and Birmingham Education Partnership.
Birmingham is the youngest major city in Europe, with under 25’s accounting for nearly 40% of its population. Approximately more than 4,500 of all school age children in the city will experience emotionally based school refusal and there is concern that the covid-19 pandemic has only served to exacerbate this situation.
Working with hundreds of schools across the city, #YouveBeenMissed is providing training webinars, guidance and resources focusing on anxiety, low mood and self-care and a wealth of activities to support children and young people to improve their mental health.
Released weekly throughout September, the resources focus on key themes; anxiety and stress, challenging thoughts, primary emotions and self-care. As well as a series of videos specifically for children and young people to help normalise anxiety and focus on practical techniques to manage these feelings.
Wendy, a parent from South Birmingham said:
“I have attended the parental self- care and anxiety webinars from #YouveBeenMissed and am booked on the anger and self-harm ones; I think these sessions need to be available to every parent; there has been no guidance for me widely available up until now. The self –care webinar helped me to think about how I care for myself and how my daughters see this and it impacts on their relationships with their own self-care. The anxiety webinar helped me to understand how the brain works in a really simple way, this helped me to understand why my child behaves the way they do, and how to support my family to move forwards positively.”
Children can be absent from school for a variety of reasons, however, there is a group of children and young people whose reluctance to attend school becomes so entrenched due to emotional factors that they often experience lengthy absences from school. This is known as Emotionally Based School Avoidance (EBSA).
Erin Docherty, Lead Nurse for our STICK (Screening, Training, Intervention, Consultation, Knowledge) mental health team, said:
“When a child becomes distressed and refuses to attend school, it is often a natural reaction to want to keep them home and soothe them. This response compounds the issue and can make it increasing difficult to return. When a child is not in school more than they are, their learning suffers. The ripple effect of the absence often flows through the entire family. The child can suffer from increasing anxiety and isolation; often this is subtle in the beginning stages and can lead to withdrawal. We know, as a result of COVID-19, that many of our children and young people have suffered extreme loss in many areas of life and that many will be at risk of non-school attendance.”
Anna Robinson, Mental Health and Well-being Lead from Birmingham Education Partnership said:
“Coming back to anything after time away is hard and so we also know that some pupils may need and want some extra help right now to understand and cope with the feelings that returning to school may bring. The launch of #YouveBeenMissed helps schools to help early on by equipping them with the even greater understanding around aspects of emotional wellbeing and resources that can help.”
Councillor Jayne Francis, cabinet member for education, skills and culture for Birmingham City Council said:
“It is vital that we all play our part in looking after children’s mental health, particularly given the difficulties children have been going through over the last few months.”
Elaine Kirwan, Deputy Chief Nurse for Mental Health Services for Forward Thinking Birmingham, said:
“Our Forward Thinking Birmingham team alongside our partners, Birmingham Education Partnership and Birmingham City Council have worked together to offer education and tools for adults to support children and young people, as well as specific resources that children, parents and carers can use independently. The webinars, training support and resources for families and children and young people will be invaluable.”
Visit our bwc.nhs.uk/youve-been-missed for a host of useful resources, including videos and dates for webinars. The dedicated #YouveBeenMissed section is split and contains tailored advice and support for parents/carers, children, young people and education professionals.