In order to learn how to better support our students with mental health problems, we have decided to invest in a training and ongoing awareness programme. The programme is for Bright World staff and selected host families and will be specifically targeted towards the support we can offer to international students in UK boarding schools.
To kick start the programme and initiative, the Bright World Head Office Team undertook a full day of training on 15th November 2022 with expert Kate Day from KRD Training. This training will be followed up in early December with training particularly targeted towards host families and Local Coordinators.
The aim is for our organisation to have a team of trained Mental Health Champions who understand Mental Health and how to care for and speak to students who are struggling whilst under their care. They will also be trained in the Bright World Emergency Safe Plan so they know what to do in an emergency situation.
We are seeing an increasing number of our guardianship students struggling with their mental health. Sometimes it is our host families or Local Buddies who notice changes in student behaviour and they may also be the person who the child confides in when they are having trouble coping.
If students at UK boarding schools are suffering from poor mental health or have a diagnosed mental health illness then sometimes, as guardians, we are asked by the school to step in and help. After they have seen a Mental Health professional, we are sometimes asked to accommodate students in a host family until they are well enough to return to school. Host families and Local Coordinators (Bright World Buddies) may also be asked to take students to medical or counselling appointments.
We do not have medical qualifications and we act on advice from medical professionals. Our aim is not to replace a doctor or a counsellor but to complement their work and offer the best support we possibly can to our students.
If we remove a student from school with serious mental health issues, this is only ever with the say so of a medical professional and we always conduct a full risk-assessment, removal form and then follow their guidance. It is also important for us to keep overseas parents informed and updated in these circumstances.
Once at a host family, we need to know why they are feeling like they are, and how we should behave with them to best support their needs and get them through the situation.
We are working with KRD Training specifically with our international students in mind to make sure our training is focussed and relevant. Kate is the Managing Director of KRD Training which specialises in the training of Therapeutic, Educational and Caring professionals in Child and Adolescent Counselling and Mental Health. She has designed and delivered specialised professional training for over 17 years.
Those attending the training will receive a certificate of attendance from KRD Training and Champions will then be sent a Mental Health booklet from Bright World with a checklist of what do to in various situations. Our staff Mental Health Champions will be able to wear their lanyard on official visits to show they have our training.
We will be consolidating all our new knowledge obtained in November and December and creating a manual for us all to follow. We will be sharing this with parents and schools in due course.