What do we do in school?
We build trust and have a very open culture, students who express suicidal thoughts will always recieve care, kindness and understanding
We take the thoughts seriously - there's never an attitude which feels it is about manipulation or wanting to fit in. If you've thought it at any level, then we want to be there to help you feel better in that moment. If we can't make you feel better, at least you will not feel alone.
We assess risk, initially using the Columbia scale, and sometimes through time with our clinical psychologist. We discuss with carers how the risks can be reduced at home, but we work with the young person and what they would like to happen too. We may make a referral to other services to help the young person and their family.
When other services do not have the capacity to get involved we will hold our own internal PAF (Plan Around the Family) meeting and ensure that as many of our professionals and associates get involved in helping you. We will sign post the young person towards phone numbers, aps, online support and will ensure our therapy offer in school bolsters you during the day, ready for the evening -as usually it is at night or in the early hours that these thoughts creep in.
Vacation periods can also be a difficulty for families and the school provides activity days as well as telephone support with members of the well-being team or one of our clinical psychologists on call for 1:1 appointments.
All our students are closely monitored but we have a list of students who we feel are at particular risk of suicidal thoughts and related actions. All our students have key workers, but those on the list will have key workers selected who have a particular understanding of the issues and who can relate.
We run parent workshops, invite guest speakers as well as in-house providers. We are always happy to chat to parents and discuss ideas around further reducing risks.
Several of our staff members have had intense training on this area, and all staff have had workshops provided by outside trainers.
We have specific policy and processes.
KEY QUESTIONS PARENTS ASK US
KEY Q: WHY ALLOW CHILDREN ON SITE WHO ARE AT RISK? OTHER SETTINGS DO NOT?
ANSWER: WE ARE VERY AWARE OF THE RISKS AND DO ALL WE CAN TO REDUCE THEM.
We ensure that there is a very high level of supervision in school, plus greater awareness and training, so the chances of an attempt in school are arguably much less than in other settings.
Sadly, due to the nature of the students we work with, the risk of a student who attends our school ending their life whilst not in our care is very high compared to other settings - our students are not on an observation ward as in a hospital unit, but they present a much higher level of need than is usual. We support parents in assessing and managing risks, and we work with other agencies to reduce the overall risks.
KEY Q: WHY OPERATE, KNOWING THESE RISKS?
ANSWER: Because we need to as there isn't anywhere else. Students do not meet the criteria for a hospital stay, but are not well enough to attend a usual school. They need the self-esteem boosting experience of learning and socialising in a specialist environment. To date we have never had an incident of high level self-harm on site, and all suicidal issues have been dealt with at the non-action phase. This is testimony to the open atmosphere and degree of care the staff show to the young people.
KEY Q: WHY IS THERE NOT MORE SUPPORT OUT THERE?
ANSWER: As a school we live in hope. There are many charitable and governmental organisations working in this area and all are doing an excellent job. Sadly there is still a lot of variation in services across the country and also an overal lack of funding and understanding.
THE NATIONAL SITUATION - A SOURCE OF NATIONAL DISGRACE
Despite half of all mental health issues manifesting by the age of 14, only 8% of the entire NHS mental health budget is spent on CAMHS. That works out as less than 1% of the NHS budget being spent on children and young people's mental health services. Warwick University's 2017 Milestones project compared transition of care from CAMHS to AMS for young people across different healthcare systems in Europe. Figures show that in terms of specialist beds for young people the UK is 18th in the EU league table. We are, as found by part of the same research, 21st place in terms of the number of psychiatrists trained to work with young people.
When young people are assessed by CAMHs it does not necessarily guarantee treatment. A recent audit showed that half of young people assessed waited more than 18 weeks before any treatment was provided, and over 500 children had waited more than a year from initial assessment (Health Service Journal research 2017/18)
Young people who identify as LGBT are 50% more likely to end their own lives
Young people who are transgender are 80% more likely to end their own lives
Young people from ethnic minorities are 50% more likely to end their own lives
Those with other anxiety and control disorders, including eating disorders, are 50% more likely to end their own lives
People who self-harm are 30% more likely to end their own life .... but do not forget that many people end their own lives having never self-harmed.
Core question - what if you are a young person who belongs to more than one of those above groups?
WHAT IS ARUN COURT'S CORE MESSAGE TO OUR YOUNG PEOPLE?
IT IS REALLY TOUGH OUT THERE - WE UNDERSTAND YOUR PERSPECTIVE!
We work with young people at a very vulnerable stage of their life. How would you like to be a teenager nowadays? You will be bombarded by puberty, confusion over sexuality and identity, constant pressure to conform to 'norms' presented on social media, pressure to look great, have multiple friends, achieve high grades and oh by the way we will fill the news with stories about how lazy, criminal and useless you all are. Oh and keep reminding you that your job prospects are low, you'll always live at home and the planet is going to explode soon .....
At school we fight against these negative and false facts about teens. You are our future and you are all wonderful people, doing wonderful things and with the potential to do even more exceptional things. We subscribe to a magazine called 'Positive News' which only reports on upbeat news stories including those involving young people - when you read it you will be amazed at all the good in the world, and how many positive things are taking place on the issues you care about. We display material and articles about young people which challenges your thinking about what is 'normal'. You are you; whoever you are .... theres no such thing as a 'normal' to aspire to.
We pair you up with young people we have kept in contact with over the years and get them back in to talk to you - they have been where you are now, and they want to help you and mentor you. Your school leadership understands and is totally unshockable ...... nothing that has happened to you is too shocking to share. Nothing that has upset you is too minor and we will never dismiss anything as silly. Nothing you are feeling is going to be dismissed as 'not valid'. Your school leadership (Bev, James, Chris and Gillian) want to know, and we will work with you to help you think about what kinds of things will start you on the journey to recovery - Let us help you to find the real relief you want to feel; remember you need to be alive to feel it.
SOURCES OF HELP
These services are not associated with us. We are not responsible for the quality of service they provide, we are recommending them based on the positive experiences of some young people known to us. By inclusion in this list nor are we suggesting that we are in any way affiliated with these servcies.
ANXIETY UK - Support, online counselling, magazine, advice
Text line: 07537416905
Info line: 03444775774
A magazine packed full of useful articles around not just ASD, but the mental health aspects associated with it - fascinating reading and lots of signalling to specialist support.
Website provides support for young people, professionals and parents. Young people who feel they are having a mental health crisis can get instant emergency support by texting YM to 85258
OCD UK - advice, online counselling, support and magazine. Dedicated youth services.
PAPYRUS - suicide prevention young people's hotline 0800 068 41 41
An eating disorder support service - smaller than some of the bigger associations, but specifically aimed at young people.