Talking to pupils when they make mental health disclosures

Talking to pupils when they make mental health disclosures

What to say during initial conversations and what to do next.

It is important that PSHE teachers are aware that when they lead whole-class sessions on issues like mental health, such discussions can trigger responses in individual pupils who may then choose to make a disclosure about a personal situation. The way in which that disclosure is first handled will be critically important, both in terms of the pupil’s immediate feelings and his or her likelihood of engaging in future support.

It is crucial, therefore, that clear ground rules are set for PSHE lessons, one of which will be that personal matters should not be discussed in a group setting, another that while PSHE teachers are always willing to talk to pupils about the pupil’s personal situation in a one-to-one setting, they can never promise confidentiality since disclosures may have safeguarding implications. What teachers can do, however, is to listen sensitively and supportively while at the same time gathering the information they need to consider what to do next.

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