MHEW Recovery Guidance


DfE Guidance on temporary changes: attendance recording for educational settings whilst closed due to the coronavirus 

We have put together key information and resources for schools to help maintain provision during the COVID-19 situation.

1. MHEW Recovery Guidance

** These pages and resources have been developed by ESCC and local partners to support schools and colleges transitioning to full opening**

It is understood that the culture and establishment of an emotionally healthy learning environment are vital, and that Senior Leadership Teams are key to this.  In planning to support children and young people’s mental health and emotional wellbeing, schools and settings have focused on reviewing policies and procedures (internal and external), hosting virtual training and meetings, working closely with parents/carers, making themselves aware of pupils’ individual experiences during the lockdown, joint working with local organisations, providing clear information on what changes will be in place, including social distancing measures and staggered start times, and details of local ‘bubble’s, including photos, videos and written guidance.

It is important to maintain this focused approach during the first weeks and months of the new academic year.

Whole Setting Approach

Members of staff within education settings are not expected to become mental health or emotional wellbeing experts, however modelling exemplary behaviours and values will have a high impact on how well children, young people and colleagues can adapt to this unique time in history.   See more about a whole school approach to mental health and emotional wellbeing (MHEW) here.

See suggested wellbeing resources from Mentally Healthy Schools to help plan your staff INSET days.

Key principles of this guidance include:

  • Not over-medicalising or jumping to diagnostic conclusions
  • Normalising worry about returning to education - emotions are a part of normal, everyday life
  • Understanding that every child or young person is unique, and that their needs may change over time
  • Viewing the reopening of education settings from a child or young person’s perspective
  • Understanding the importance of a whole setting approach which promotes kindness, compassion, flexibility and takes a positive psychology approach
  • Building on existing strengths and skills of children, young people, parents/carers and education provision staff (for example, active listening with empathy can perform an important therapeutic function)
  • Complementing existing guidance and practice
  • Building on risk and protection factors for a child or young person’s mental health

The Five Pillars of Recovery from Trauma

COVID-19 could be regarded as a community trauma.  International research into what people need in the immediate to mid-term aftermath of a mass trauma (Hobfall et al, 2007) has identified five key elements – the following pages, relating to the Five Pillars may be helpful in guiding and informing intervention (including universal and targeted) in schools.  

Key MHEW considerations for children and young people:

  • Transitions
  • Health vulnerabilities
  • SEND pupils’ needs
  • Support for cyp/adults remaining at home
  • Higher levels of anxiety for specific groups
  • Health anxiety
  • Academic anxiety
  • Social anxiety
  • Separation anxiety
  • Anticipated increase in emotionally based school avoidance (EBSA)
  • Increase in domestic violence, both adult to adult and child to parent
  • Impact of change in schooling going forwards: mix of in-school and home-based learning
  • Challenge of completing assessments virtually


Recognising the signs of MHEW needs

It is normal for a child or young person to feel worried or anxious when returning to education.  These worries and anxieties may manifest themselves in a variety of verbal and non-verbal ways and therefore education colleagues are encouraged to be alert to uncharacteristic and unexplained changes in behaviour. 


Examples of early warning signs:

  • Withdrawal
  • Unusual aggression
  • Erratic behaviours and mood changes
  • Significant weight gain/loss
  • Agitation and poor concentration
  • Developmental regression (such as wetting in younger children)
  • Worsening of any pre-existing mental health needs.


For a more in depth knowledge of signs and symptoms of various mental health needs, education settings can access free online training at MindEd or the Anna Freud Centre for Children and Families: Mentally Healthy Schools.  It is recommended that all staff within education settings have at least a basic knowledge and understanding of children and young people’s mental health and know how to escalate concerns locally.  Additionally, training is available locally in East Sussex via ESCC Children’s Services ISEND dept., Workforce Development Team, Mental Health Support Teams, etc. 

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