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Psychologists offer vital support as schools return

A team of psychologists in Suffolk has created a “support pack” to help schools cope with an increase in mental health issues faced by both students and colleagues following the Covid 19 pandemic.

The pack, designed to help staff best respond to any emotional distress displayed by students or colleagues, has already been adopted by councils in Suffolk and Norfolk. 

Created by the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) Psychology in Schools Team, the resource focuses on five key priorities to help students and staff meet the physical and emotional demands of returning to school.  

The priorities include acknowledging everyone’s experiences and accepting it is normal to feel anxious in a crisis; recognising the need for routine, rules and structure in order to create calm; providing opportunities to allow students and staff to be able to listen to one another’s experiences; embracing opportunities to enhance life skills through coping with difficult situations; and recognising that although coronavirus has affected us in different ways, we are all in this together. It even has a ‘ready to go’ assembly plan to welcome back students and staff.

The resource pack has already been shared with local schools and is attracting national attention as the Department of Education is using it to inform their recovery plan. The pack is available to download HERE 

The pack is adaptable to the specific needs of each individual school and can be integrated into any back-to-school plan. It provides clear and concise guidance based on the research evidence on best practice in responding to emergencies such as this coronavirus pandemic.

Dr Beth Mosley, Lead Clinical Psychologist, said: “It is only when children feel safe and comforted, they are then able to learn. Schools are familiar with this - a good school is responsive to a child’s emotional needs, as well as their learning needs. The pack is very much designed to support schools with the task of containing their community’s anxieties and helping support them to provide appropriate psychological safety and comfort.

“The pack gives school leaders the confidence that their approach to supporting staff, students and parents is built on the latest research as well as their experience and intuition as to what is best for them.”

The Psychology in Schools team is commissioned by NHS Ipswich and East Suffolk and NHS West Suffolk clinical commissioning groups.

Suffolk's Emotional Wellbeing Hub provides information, advice and support for children, young people and families - visit HERE for more information

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