Mental Health & Wellbeing at RBA

Student wellbeing is a priority at the Richard Barnes Academy. We understand the pressures that school life as well as outside factors can place on our young people.

We actively encourage our learners to talk to someone about their feelings, to put matters into perspective and release tension.

Within the academy, students are able to talk to their tutor, Head of Campus, Deputy Head of Campus, School Counsellor or any member of staff they comfortable speaking with.  

If you have concerns about your child or your child feels they would benefit from additional support there are many places that can help;

Mental health - Let's talk about it

One in ten children and young people aged 5 to 16 has a clinically diagnosed mental health disorder and around one in seven has less severe problems.

Mental health affects how well we feel, and how we cope with the obstacles and challenges we face in life. 

Some young people experience mental health difficulties and the symptoms can interfere with their day-to-day life. Mental health difficulties can affect things like your concentration, your relationships and your ability to communicate with others or get to school or college. 

Mental health difficulties can affect anyone – it’s not the person’s fault and there is nothing to be ashamed of.

Recognising depression and seeking help is the first and most critical towards recovery.

If you continue to struggle, and especially if you have any thoughts about hurting yourself, speak to a member of school staff or ask your parent/carer to book a GP appointment for you. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to someone directly, you can call the Samaritans on 116 123 or Childline on 0800 1111. Remember there shouldn’t be any shame in asking for help, in fact it’s a sign of courage.

Mental health support for pupils

What is mental health? 

We all have mental health, just as we all have physical health. Being mentally healthy means that:

  • We feel good about ourselves
  • We can make and keep positive relationships with others
  • We feel able to manage our feelings rather than feeling overwhelmed by them
  • We have interests or hobbies that we enjoy
  • We feel hopeful and positive about the future

Good mental health helps us to cope with life’s ups and downs and to ask for support from others when we need it.

Mental health spectrum

Mental health and mental illness are part of a scale or ‘spectrum’ just as physical health and illness are. Many things can lead us to move up and down the spectrum at different times of our life.

Examples of things that might harm our mental health are:

  • Having friendship difficulties such as lots of arguments
  • Feeling under pressure at school, such as during exams
  • Feeling worried about the health of a family member
  • Being bullied – in person or online

Some things that might protect and improve our mental health are:

  • Having a close friend you trust, or a supportive friendship group
  • Having a teacher or other staff member at school you can go to if you need help
  • Enjoying time at home with your family
  • Having hobbies or interests you enjoy taking part in
  • Eating a healthy diet and getting plenty of sleep

It is important to remember that, just as our mental health can suffer during difficult times in our life, it can also recover.

Top Tips for how to look after your mental health 

Day to day . . .


  • Make time each day to spend with your family
  • Visit a friend or family member who needs support or company
  • Speak to someone new today
  • Call your friend instead of messaging
  • Go to a party or social event instead of staying at home

Be active 

  • Walk or cycle to school
  • Offer to take a neighbour’s dog for a walk
  • Run round the park or use the outdoor gym/trim trail
  • Use an app to count your daily steps

Give to others 

  • Ask your friend how they really are, then really listen to the answer
  • Say thank you with a smile
  • Offer to lend a hand if you see someone struggling
  • Volunteer with a local group
  • Arrange a treat for you and a friend or family member
  • Phone a relative as a surprise

Be aware 

  • Try out yoga or meditation
  • Pick a time each day to breathe deeply and be aware of your surroundings
  • Play a piece of music and put all your energy into listening
  • Turn off all your social media for 30 minutes a day
  • Visit a place where you can be still for a few moments

Keep learning 

  • Visit a museum, gallery, or a place of interest
  • Learn how to fix your bike
  • Get a family member to show you how to cook a meal
  • Learn to play a musical instrument

Also, don’t forget to:

Eat a balanced diet 

Eating regular meals and ensuring you don’t skip breakfast is just as important for your mental health as it is for our physical health. Ensure you eat 5 fruit and veg a day, avoid foods which are high in sugar and drink plenty of water or other non-sugary drinks.

Get plenty of sleep 

Start preparing for bedtime at least an hour beforehand. Try and establish a regular bedtime routine such as having a relaxing bath or shower beforehand and ensuring your room is dark and not too hot or cold. Avoid any screen (TV, laptop, computer, phone) usage for an hour before bedtime as the light from the screen can keep your brain alert and not ready for sleep.

When times get tough . . . 

Remember that it is normal to go up and down the spectrum of mental health at different times in our lives. Here are some things you can do to support yourself when things get tough:

Try writing down how you feel

Some young people find keep a ‘mood diary’ helpful to record how they feel on different days and identify any patterns which might explain what is upsetting them.

Reach out to others who are struggling
If you know that someone else in your friendship group is also finding things difficult, reach out to them and see if you can support each other. Helping someone else can help you feel better too.

Be kind to yourself 

When times are hard, it’s important to be extra kind to yourself just as you would be kind to
a friend in need. Think about what you might find comforting – re-reading a favourite book, playing some favourite music, watching a film you enjoy with a friend or parent/carer, going for a walk to clear your head.

Speak to someone you trust 

One of the most important things you can do is to speak to someone rather than ‘bottling up’ your feelings inside yourself. Choose a close friend, family member or a teacher or other school staff member to share your worries with

Ask for help 

If you continue to struggle, and especially if you have any thoughts about hurting yourself, speak to a member of school staff or ask your parent/carer to book a GP appointment for you. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to someone directly, you can call the Samaritans on 116 123 or Childline on 0800 1111. Remember there shouldn’t be any shame in asking for help, in fact it’s a sign of courage.

Mental Health Support for Parents and Carers

What is mental health?

We all have mental health, just as we all have physical health. Being mentally healthy means that we feel good about ourselves, make and keep positive relationships with others and can feel and manage the full range of emotions. These can range from happiness, excitement and curiosity through to less comfortable feelings such as anger, fear or sadness. Good mental health allows us to cope with life’s ups and downs, to feel in control of our lives and to ask for help from others when we need support.

Mental health spectrum 

Mental health and mental illness are part of a ‘spectrum’ just as physical health and illness are. Throughout our lives, many different things can lead us to move up and down the spectrum such as the start or end of relationships, getting a new job or being made redundant, changes in physical health and good news or worries about those we are close to. It is important to remember that recovery is possible, even from severe mental ill health, and that people with a mental ill- health diagnosis may be managing their condition well and still experiencing high levels of wellbeing.

Top Tips for how you can support your child’s mental health 

Day to day . . . 

Our everyday habits are important to our mental health, just as they are to our physical health. Here are a few suggestions to help your child develop good habits.

Are there things you can encourage them to do, or do together, each day?

Talk openly about mental health 

Just as you might encourage them to eat fruit and veg
to keep their bodies healthy (and model this behaviour yourself), talk openly about, for example, staying connected with others or being physically active in order to take care of our minds.

Model good habits 

Children often learn from copying what they see around them. If you are taking care of your own mental health, it’s easier for them to see what good habits look like.

Think about phone usage - both theirs and yours

We don’t fully understand the impact of social media on our mental health but using phones and laptops can impact on our sleep, which is important to our mental health.
We’re also more likely to listen to one another if we’re not distracted by technology.

Notice any changes in your child’s behaviour

Young people tell us how they’re feeling in many ways, not always verbally. Learning what is normal for your child makes it easier to notice when things change, and if this might be a sign that they’re struggling.

When times get tough . . . 

Sometimes you might worry about your child’s mental health. Whilst you might need to speak to a member of school staff or your GP for advice, here are a few things you can do if you’re worried.

Let your child know that you’re concerned

Explain why you feel that way, e.g. if you’ve noticed they haven’t been interested in activities they usually enjoy.

Use activities that you do together to have conversations about how they are doing

Talking whilst doing something together, side- by-side, such as cooking, can help them share their feelings more easily than a face-to-face conversation.

Let them know that struggling sometimes is normal and nothing to be ashamed of

Tell them about the mental health spectrum and that we all, including you, go up and down the scale throughout our lives. Reassure them that talking about difficult feelings with the people we trust is a brave thing to do.

Listen and empathise 

Often the first step to feeling better is feeling connected and knowing that someone is alongside you. Empathy helps young people (and adults) connect. Empathy involves acknowledging what your child is feeling, trying to understand things from their point of view and avoiding judgement. Empathy is usually more helpful than giving advice or trying to ‘fix’ their problem.

If you’re still worried 

Talk to a trusted member of school staff or your GP who can point you towards sources of help.

General advice

  • - a website that offers advice and support on a range of issues.
  • (0800 1111) - a free service that offers confidential advice and support to young people.
  • (Tel: 116 123) - a free service for people that feel like things are getting out of control.
  • - a Mental Health & Emotional Wellbeing Service for Children and Young People that provides therapeutic support in a variety of ways. CHUMS has developed a unique service delivery model to ensure that children and young people are able to access a service that supports their individual needs.
  • - a website that offers strategies for students to help them manage their own wellbeing.

Emotional wellbeing

  • - free, safe and anonymous online mental health services for children, young people and adults. Kooth, from XenZone, is an online counselling and emotional well-being platform for children and young people, accessible through mobile, tablet and desktop and free at the point of use.
  • - an online resource providing information to young people and professionals regarding emotional wellbeing.
  • (Tel: 0800 0684141 or text 07786 209697) - a service that can help young people deal with negative feelings.
  • - Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust provide information about specialist mental health services, as well as mental health training opportunities.
  • - Are you a parent or carer who is concerned about your child? Or perhaps you just want some hints and tips on parenting? MindEd for Families has online advice and information from trusted sources and will help you to understand and identify early issues and best support your child.


  • - a project dedicated to supporting young people impacted by self-harm, providing a safe space to talk, ask questions and be honest about what is going on in their life.
  • Calm Harm  - a new mobile app that provides tasks to help you resist or manage the urge to self-harm. Get started by setting your password so that it's completely private. You can personalise it if you wish, by choosing the background colour theme and deciding on whether you would like some company using a variety of friendly characters. Visit the App Store (ios) or Play Store (Android) to install the app. 


  • - CyberMentors is all about young people helping and supporting each other online, in a safe and supportive forum, that guides people to further help, both online and in person.