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“2020health is an important and thoughtful contributor to the health debate”

Dr Sarah Wollaston MP, Chairman, Health Select Committee


2020health Discussion Paper Head of Wellbeing: An essential post for secondary schools?

The ‘Head of Wellbeing’ concept was informed by four key considerations. The first was opinion from education professionals who see a clear need to raise wellbeing support within the whole-school community, for both pupils and staff. The second was the wide evidence base that acknowledges the health benefits – and economic sense – of prevention and early intervention. The third was that pupil wellbeing support is not always widely available, meaningful and coordinated: it is all too easy for schools to turn wellbeing initiatives into tick-box exercises. And the fourth, in an age of rising demand, sustainable health and wellbeing support has to include an ‘asset-based’ approach, drawing upon the skills, knowledge, connections and potential in a community.


Key findings

A rapid evidence review of published literature revealed several key strategies to improved whole-school wellbeing, including:
1. regular measurement of pupils’ wellbeing;
2. staff training on identifying early warning signs of mental health illness in young people (especially deriving from stress, bullying, family breakdown and abuse);
3. staff training on stress-coping strategies and work-life balance;
4. increased parent education (via schools) on child health and wellbeing;
5. more effective wellbeing education (PSHE, SRE, other), especially around nutrition, sex and relationship education, emotional intelligence, stress coping strategies, resilience and other ‘soft life-skills’;
6. greater engagement of young people in physical activity through a broadening of opportunities.


This report was funded by an unrestricted educational grant from Nuffield Health. 2020health retained editorial control and the views expressed in the report are those of the authors alone.


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