Who is your first line of Support?






 It is often a taboo thing to discuss in teaching circles. As two words go, nothing evokes more fear than the words ‘mental health’. But every day you, as a teacher, as a form tutor, as a member of staff are often the first line of support for students suffering from mental health issues. You duly pass on information to the hands of the safeguarding lead, hold your head up high, teach another lesson, and go home.

For me, this has been the hardest part of working in a school. To constantly be the first line of support for so many students and yet having to pass on the information and wait nervously whilst someone else responds to the problem. Yet it is something that rarely gets discussed. In mentor meetings, in staff rooms, in friendly chats with colleagues, it just isn’t mentioned until it becomes too late. And then the tidal wave hits you. It comes crashing down and maybe, if you’re lucky, your partner or parent or sibling or friend will pick you up from the ground when you can’t cope yourself….

And do you know something? It’s ok. It is ok to feel emotionally drained, to feel sympathy, to feel fear, to feel failure. And it is ok to break down so long as you get up again. But in no way think you are alone. Because despite the taboo being there, it is incredible how so many colleagues have been there and cared and will pick you up on a Wednesday when you thought they wouldn’t. It all starts with you being open.

So allow yourself the chance to trust. Be as strong as the students are that seek you out. Tell your mentor, your friend, your family, your partner, your colleague. Tell them today or tomorrow or next week if you aren’t feeling yourself. Because you too need a first line of support…