Peer Support in Schools
In response to the current COVID-19 pandemic we at Buckinghamshire Mind are closely following the Government’s guidelines on health and safety measures regarding social distancing. As such we have made important changes to our services to ensure the safety of our service users, volunteers and staff. To ensure the safety of all, we have removed the aspects of this (these) service (s) that involves face to face groups and/or 121 meetings. We will continue to create and develop innovative ways of delivering remote mental wellbeing support that focuses on tackling social isolation and promoting positive emotional wellbeing.
As such, we are still running this (these) service (s) remotely, including (this is not an exhaustive list):
- daily phone/email/text support
- online activities and support groups
- live groups via various digital platforms
- postal care packages- including motivational ideas, group activities and peer communication
- practical support, such as shopping and liaising with external services
What We Do
- Our Peer Support in Schools service is one of a range of services offered by Buckinghamshire Mind. This service is available to both primary and secondary schools in Buckinghamshire.
- Our Children & Young People’s team will deliver a full day of training to sixth formers or year 5/6; enabling them to become Peer Mentors to fellow students. This training includes mental health awareness and key aspects of their role such as their responsibilities, communication, listening skills and safeguarding.
- Each school uses different names, some call their mentors ‘buddies’, ‘ambassadors’ or ‘peer listeners’ but their role is universal. Schools work on a drop-in room or referral basis – this depends on what works best in each school.
- We will also help and support school staff to set up and run the Peer Support service. We do this by facilitating termly feedback sessions with mentors and mentees, helping mentors prepare promotional assemblies and deliver a parent coffee morning.
- We also organise a coordinators meet-up towards the end of the school year, offering all our coordinators the opportunity to network with other schools.
Listen to a radio interview from the team of Bucks Mind Peer Mentors at Broughton Junior School
Coordinators Meet Up
- In July 2019 we held our first Coordinators Meet Up; inviting all current and new school Coordinators of the Peer Support in Schools service. The aim of the event was for school staff to share good practice and discuss the challenges they faced.
- The event was a great success, with staff finding it extremely useful to share ideas to help them to continue to grow the service in their schools. We plan to hold again next summer, continuing to learn from the Coordinators and support them as best as we can.
Feedback from our Service
“I like making other children smile, so being a mentor is the right choice for me.” – St Mary’s School
“It was interesting learning about safeguarding and getting to help people with real issues. It’s nice chatting with people I wouldn’t normally talk to.” – Amersham School
“Excellent range of resources used during the training. Activities engaged the mentors through clips, photos, paired and group work. Really appropriate tone of delivery, friendly, calm and knowledgeable with clear explanations. Treated children in such a way that developed their maturity and understanding.” School Coordinator
How to Access the Service
To find out more information about this service please contact Kat Frei (Peer Support in School’s Service Coordinator) on 07498760302. Alternatively you can email : firstname.lastname@example.org.
Trailblazer Peer Support in Schools Service
What is the National Trailblazer Mental Health Support Team?
- The National Trailblazer Mental Health Support Team (MHST) service has been funded by NHS England. This exciting new service aims to develop and deliver a collaborative, system-wide approach to support the mental wellbeing of children in school.
What are MHSTs?
- This year, two Mental Health Support Teams have been developed and are operating from bases in High Wycombe (South Bucks) and Aylesbury (North Bucks). Each MHST comprises of eight specialist staff, providing multi-agency support to deliver evidence-based interventions to Children & Young People with mild to moderate difficulties who may need help to enrich their emotional wellbeing.
- The partner agencies in the Bucks MHST service are the Oxford Health Foundation Trust, Buckinghamshire County Council and Bucks Mind, who are using a combination of new, as well as established treatment, care and educational interventions that have been approved by the NHS and the Department of Education.
Buckinghamshire Mind | Peer Support in Schools Service (PSIS)
- Our service is working with a minimum of 24 Trailblazer schools across the county aiming to empower the whole school; staff, students and parents to tackle the stigma associated with mental health problems. We provide a 1-day Peer Mentor training and ongoing termly support to students who wish to become ‘peer mentors’ and support other students in their school. As the student mentors are in the ‘helper’ role, the service is specifically for low level concerns and mental wellbeing. It may be used as a ‘step up’ or ‘step down’ into the wider Mental Health Support Team, such as before/after a student has seen an Education Mental Health Practitioner (EMHP) from Oxford Health. We also support staff and parents via ‘Coffee Mornings’ where parents can ask questions about the PSIS service, as well receive ‘signposting’ about mental health provision in the community.
- For further information about the MHST project, please read: ‘Transforming Children and Young People’s Mental Health Provision – a Green Paper’
- Alternatively you can email your questions to: BucksMHST@oxfordhealth.nhs.uk
- You can read the MHST newsletters here: BUCKS MHST Newsletter Issue 1 & BUCKS MHST Newsletter Issue 2
- You can read about Bucks CAMHS here: Bucks CAMHS