Mental Health Awareness

It is a known fact that there are more reports of mental health issues in schools due to increasing pressure on students. Whether a child has a behavioural disorder, is suffering from a long-term disease, or know a family member with an illness, there are always people that can we can turn to.

Here at Penrice we have a variety of support to care for a child going through a rough time; this even includes our school dogs.

Today we interviewed Mrs Baker (owner of Bailey, the School Dog):

M & C: What qualities does Bailey have to offer to students?

Mrs Baker: I think that Bailey’s best quality is to make students smile, I love how students in the corridor just come up to me (even though they do not know me) asking about Bailey and petting her. She is very calm with students.

M & C: What are the essentials for a dog handler?

Mrs Baker: To always be there for the animal and make sure that Bailey is able to have breaks when needed. Bailey needs to be with me at all times to make sure that the students are safe as well as Bailey.

M & C: How old is Bailey and when did she start working in schools?

Mrs Baker: Bailey is five years old and has been part of our family since she was 7 weeks old – nowadays she even comes with me when I have meetings. She has been working for three and a half years and has made a massive impact on students.

M & C: Do you think Bailey has a positive effect on students?

Mrs Baker: Absolutely! She always makes students smile; she is there for students to either just have a quick stroke or a nice cuddle.

At Penrice, as well as having dogs to support the students, we have numerous staff that are trained very well with any problems faced. There is always someone to talk to when going through a rough time – the staff are always there to attend to any needs and will listen to any queries a student has. The SFC is there to give a bit of TLC to any pupil.

We interviewed Mrs Farr to find out how she feels about mental health awareness and support for this subject.

M & C: How can mental health affect a child’s behaviour?

Mrs Farr: Mental health can be very difficult for students to socialise at school and when in lessons pupils can struggle to concentrate. Students do not feel like school is the right environment when going through mental health issues, therefore we have to get them help and make sure they know we are always there to listen.

M & C: Why is children’s mental health important?

Mrs Farr: Students sometimes struggle to look after their own well-being, therefore we need to make sure they know we are always there to support them.

M & C: What are some of the most common mental health problems?

Mrs Farr: Students struggle a lot when facing challenges such as mental health issues such as; low self-esteem, anxiety which can lead to self-harming.

M & C: What help is available? 

Mrs Farr: Here at Penrice we have the SFC which can provide comfort for students. We also have one to one meetings which can reassure pupils that we are always there for them. It is a safe place and ears to listen to them. Talking about a problem and offering group work helps them know that they are not alone.

M & C: Is there any advice and support you can offer for children and young people experiencing mental health problems?

Mrs Farr: We assure students by being honest, talking to them and making sure that we can get them help outside of school if needed. We try to help children open up about problems that they feel are hard to talk about at home through trust, honesty, and by keeping our promises.

Whether it is from tea and biscuits in the SFC or a cuddle in the corridor with the school dog, Penrice are making leaps and bounds to support the students mental health.

by Millie and Camlin