A THERAPY dog is one of the approaches being taken to tackle issues like anxiety, depression and stress among pupils in Swindon schools.

The focus on mental health in education has received backing this week after Prime Minister Theresa May revealed a plan for all teachers to receive mental health training.

Kingsdown School and New College are just two institutions looking to provide care for students suffering distress.

Emma Leigh Bennet, Headteacher at Kingsdown, said: “Mental Health is something we take very seriously, we’ve created an inclusion hub which includes a new social and emotional hub, as well as what you’d expect from a school such as behaviour help and numeracy and literacy help.

"Also we have our own therapy dog to come in to help.

“We have a specialist team in place which creates supporting strategies for the children as well as working with parents and teachers to make them aware.

“Our pastoral team currently looks at attendance data and attitude to work data in order to try and spot signs and intervene before it becomes an issue.

“It’s a real issue and we aim for first aid mental health, which means more staff are trained and alert so that they can pick up on the issues before it becomes a barrier for the children’s education and enjoyment.”

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It’s not just school children who experience mental health problems. Issues can continue when students reach college and university.

Duncan Webster, head of student services and safeguarding at New College, said: “Pressure to succeed in a world where labour markets are more unsettled, alongside the stress caused by a perceived need to compare favourably with peers on social media, undoubtedly contribute.

“We provide holistic support to our students starting with their personal tutors who explore mental health issues and preventative work in tutorials, safeguarding officers including our college nurses, professional counsellors and our well-being team of mentors.”

Using her last few weeks as PM to push the policy, Mrs May said: “Too many of us have seen first-hand the devastating consequences of mental illness.

“We should never accept the rise in mental health problems as inevitable.

“Tackling this issue has always been a priority for me and it needs the urgent attention that it deserves.”

Sarah Howes, the Additional Learning Support Manager at New College added: “We are one of the Trailblazers in Swindon.

“The 2017 Government published its Green Paper for Transforming children and young people’s mental health, which detailed proposals for expanding access to mental health care, building on the NHS transformation programme.”

“The Mental Health Support Team will take the governments vision and commitment to develop integrated teams in schools and colleges.”

READ MORE: Mental health support teams will be visiting schools to help children deal with stress and anxiety

If you or your child has any concerns, then contact your school or college to see what they offer in terms of support.