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Mental Health & Wellbeing

Oak Bank School has a multi-disciplinary team providing support for students including Clinical Psychology and Therapeutic Counselling; this has helped to reduce significant psychological distress amongst our students. We recognise the costs and waiting times to access counselling can be prohibitive and in turn have a negative impact on a students’ wellbeing and ability to receive the care and compassion they need. It has been found by (NHS 2018) that one in eight 5 to 19 year olds meet the criteria for a mental health disorder.

We have found that students who have accessed counselling within school have improved their self-esteem and achieved personal goals and outcomes, this has made a huge difference in their overall well-being and ability to engage in education.

The services delivered at Oak Bank School are delivered by highly skilled practitioners often working with trauma and the complex needs of our students, through offering these services we are able to potentially take pressure off of statutory provisions, making the transition easier when access to specialist support in external mental health services is identified. Providing this diverse and comprehensive provision, applying care and targeted support for our students is seen as essential and is implemented widely throughout the school and its ethos; helping to aid the well-being, mental health and raising self-esteem, preparing our students for their future adult life.

Oak Bank School-based counselling consists of one-on-one sessions with a counsellor based in a school. This is a child-centred approach, with children talking about their issues and developing solutions and having full autonomy to navigate and find their own resolution with the aid of the counsellor and Clinical Psychologist.

At Oak Bank we are very proud to have Clinical Psychologist, Dr Faye Bellanca working with us two days a week. Dr Faye has a large caseload of our children and provides them and their families with weekly psychological input here in school.

Her work includes meeting with parents/carers, weekly parental support and strategies to try at home, weekly creative 1:1 session with our students, adapting her therapeutic modality to promote engagement with each individual. Her work can involve Autism assessments and Eye Movement Desensitisation & Reprocessing techniques. Dr Faye liaises regularly with wider agencies such as Social Care, CAMHs, Forensic and Paediatric services to ensure effective and collaborative wider systems of support for our most complex young people. As a staff team we are privileged to have regular training with Dr Faye who also provides supervision and whole school support.

Oak Bank School is very fortunate to employ two of it’s own qulaified counsellors. 

Our Therapeutic Counsellor Mr I Ball has worked with young people and adults for 13 years with behaviour and learning difficulties, with extensive experience of working with abused children and supporting those with substance misuse. He offers individual and group sessions to students between the ages of 12 and 18 and has worked with children with complex needs such as: Special Educational Needs & Disabilities, Attachment Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Deliberate Self Harm and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder etc. Mr Ball has also worked with those who have endured traumatic experiences and/or criminal offending behaviour.

Our Therapeutic Counsellor Miss A Knight has a broad and diverse experience that spans 16 years. Over this time she has supported young children through to advanced life adult care. At Oak Bank she works with indivduals and holistically to support carers and the wider family. Miss Knight has worked with young people with Social, Emotional and Mental Health (SEMH) as a primary need for nearly a decade. In addition to a breadth of educational support around common diagnosis, she supports young people to cope with challenging issues such as dealing with loss and bereavement, anxiety, resilience, attachment and improving self-esteem. Miss Knight’s approach is innovative and thoughtful. She has provided staff training opportunities and implemented a variety of successful approaches such as ‘creative play’ and ‘life stories’. 

The therapeutic team is well trained in supporting mental health and have had the pleasure of providing support for all children and families both at school and in the home, providing a strong supportive link and establishing an open communication and support network to promote the wellbeing of our students. Both are full Members of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP)

Oak Bank School also offer a plethora of other therapeutic activities such as the use of animals within our animal centre, school dogs, art, Lego, drawing, talking and targeted boxing pad work and exercise.

Dr Faye Bellanca, Miss Knight and Mr Ball work collaboratively assessing students’ needs, behaviour and strategies based on observations, interactions and issues identified within their Educational Health Care Plans. They regularly network with YOT, CAMHS and psychiatric teams and agencies.

Reference List:
NHS Digital. (n.d.). One in eight of five to 19 year olds had a mental disorder in 2017 major new survey finds. [online] Available at: five-to-19-year-olds-had-a-mental-disorder-in-2017-major-new-survey-finds.

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