Mental Health Project – RSAA on the road!

The last year has seen the RSA and RSA Academies working with seven schools, including six of the schools in the Family, on the topic of mental health. With support from the Pears Foundation, this project – a Comprehensive Approach to Mental Health in Schools – involved providing three training sessions throughout the year for all adults in the schools. The aim of the training was to enable staff to feel more comfortable and confident talking about mental health issues and more able to identify and provide first line support to children who are struggling with issues such as anxiety and depression.

A year on, our independent evaluator, Anna Freud, has sent out surveys to 2000 children and staff members to help us to understand the impact of this programme. Staff from the RSA and RSA Academies have also been on the road to visit all the schools that took part. In each school, we conducted three separate focus groups with pupils, staff (teachers and non-teachers) and the Senior Leadership Team.

It was such a pleasure to visit the schools and talk to staff about how they had found the programme, as well as discovering that many of the schools had also initiated their own additional projects – this ranged from having regular assemblies on various topics related to mental health, having drop-in sessions run by students themselves and starting up a voluntary wellbeing working group for staff to discuss strategies for creating a mentally healthy school.

Looking forward, we will be preparing a report on our findings, which will give more detail as to the findings from the focus groups and surveys, as well as an evaluation of the programme as a whole. RSA Academies also plan to support schools in the Family of Academies to continue this important work, including co-writing a mental health and wellbeing commitment with the staff leads from this project for all RSA schools to sign up to. This commitment will sit alongside our two other commitments: Preparing for the World Beyond School and Arts, Creativity and Cultural Education.

The RSA Academies team would like to thank all the school staff involved in this programme for taking time to fill out the surveys and also to those who took part in the focus groups. Watch this space for the RSA report on the programme, due in October!