Support Self-Disclosure

Reducing barriers to learning.

How are your pupils developing the essential skill of recognising for themselves when they need help and what to do about it?

Having the confidence, knowledge and skills to ask for help themselves can contribute to pupils’ willingness to access health or voluntary services later in life. Methods such as worry boxes, bubble time (primary) email addresses, helplines, self-help websites and apps provide pupils with an opportunity to be proactive in seeking help for themselves. To do this effectively they may need to be explicitly taught: that all children and young people have worries - they are not the only one - it is nothing to be ashamed of or embarrassed by.

Boys especially need this message. Childline reports have indicated that only a third of those that contact the service are boys, and when they do, they are often at crisis point;

  • the parameters for using the method e.g. examples of the types of issues they can raise - none too big or too small - how and where to seek help early or in an emergency
  • the language to use - could include feelings ‘I feel scared, worried, angry because…’ ‘I think I need x to happen/talk to’ etc. They may want to mention frequency of the event, intensity of their response e.g. ‘I feel 8 out 10 anxious most days,’ etc
  • what they can expect adults to do once they’ve shared their worry; e.g. when will they be contacted, by whom, who will be told, what might happen next
  • that they can keep asking for support until the issue is resolved / manageable
  • that they can tell someone else their worry if they are not getting the support they need
  • that if they have special or additional needs there are alternative methods that they can use
  • that they can approach any adult in the school that they feel comfortable with. It doesn’t have to be their class teacher / form tutor, Head of Year, etc.
   Talking to pupils when they make mental health disclosures

The way in which that disclosure is first handled will be critically important, both in terms of the pupil’s immediate feelings and his or her likelihood of engaging in future support.

It is crucial, therefore, that clear ground rules are set for PSHE lessons, one of which will be that personal matters should not be discussed in a group setting, another that while PSHE teachers are always willing to talk to pupils about the pupil’s personal situation in a one-to-one setting, they can never promise confidentiality, since disclosures may have safeguarding implications. What teachers can do, however, is to listen sensitively and in a supportive way while at the same time gathering the information they need to consider what to do next.

Head over to our External Agency Support repository and check out the PSHE Association for support, guidance and information on how to get the most out of PSHE.

External agency support