We need trained clinicians supporting our youngsters

In 2018 Cambridge Academic Performance carried out a systematic literature review to examine the best evidence on providing clinically significant support to students with mental health problems in secondary schools or at university. We looked at the evidence base in Europe, America and Australia over the past ten years. We screened 2413 abstracts and reviewed 216 full text articles. We identified 9 pieces of research and focused on what was clinically significant about the therapeutic approaches that were used.

This has informed our work ever since. We take our work seriously and we offer an evidence- based approach to support students to not only manage their mental health but to thrive and succeed.

In the studies Cambridge Academic Performance found that treatments delivered by trained clinicians demonstrated improved outcomes for the treatment groups in 5/5 studies, while those delivered by facilitators showed significant improvements in just 1/3 studies and those delivered by teachers had mixed results.

This was a surprise outcome of our research. We hadn’t factored in that therapeutic group sessions are sometimes delivered by staff who are not trained clinicians. It was reassuring to see that when clinicians are used students’ mental health improved in all cases. This is not to say that teaching staff or other facilitators do not have a role, but it is important to note that if we do not deliver useful support to vulnerable students in the first instance, it can put them off seeking any further support. This escalates vulnerability. When young people reach out they need clinically effective support. And teachers can feel overwhelmed by the level of help they are being expected to provide that falls outside of their training. It is extremely worrying for teaching staff to feel that they are responsible for their students mental wellbeing.

That is why Cambridge Academic Performance, who are trained and registered occupational therapists, are able to offer teaching staff support and guidance, as well as deliver clinically significant therapeutic approaches.

Our finding was – we need trained clinicians supporting our youngsters. And those trained clinicians need to know what works best through a thorough understanding of the research.

How to support your child during exams

This blog is based on a training that I deliver to parents in schools to help them provide exam support to their children.

As we all know the exam season is very stressful for children. However, it is especially stressful for parents! Often parents don’t know what to do and how to help and this is an extremely painful experience for them. They’re desperate to help their child and really want to see them doing well and feeling good during the exams but all too often students are going into crisis and having meltdowns. It is excruciating for parents to feel that all they can do is stand on the sidelines helplessly.

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Why Superheroes Matter


What is most helpful is identifying our strengths and building on them.

Most of the time we can be really focused on our negative aspects and what we are not doing, or achieving. In terms of the performance literature we know that this isn’t a helpful approach. What is most helpful is identifying our strengths and building on them.

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Supporting Perfectionistic Students

Recently I delivered a training at the Independent Schools Conference hosted at Kings School, Ely as part of their risk prevention training. Asked to speak on a topic I felt was relevant to independent schools I chose to speak about supporting students who are in the grip of perfectionistic thinking. This is a pervasive problem that I see repeatedly in the students that I coach. This post supports the training that I provided pastoral care and teaching staff.

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Using pictures to highlight mental health issues

This is a section of a blog post written for The PIE by Pat Moores, Director of UK Education Guide https://ukeducationguide.com. Here you can see the text with the visuals for explanation (in The PIE blog the visual is not available). We believe that using visuals captures really important issues quickly. It covers ground much more quickly than words can, especially for younger children and international students who are still building their english.

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The Procrastinators Guide to Christmas Revision. 


Getting started isn't as bad as it seems. Don't let the perspective ruin your motivation.

Getting started isn’t as bad as it seems. Don’t let the perspective ruin your motivation.

Don’t be disheartened! It may be Christmas and you have to revise while everyone else is having fun, but don’t give up on the possibility that you might actually get down to some quality work among all the distractions on offer. Getting started may not be the mountain you think it is!

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Exam Results? Never give up! Never surrender!

“Never give up! Never surrender!”

Exam results can be challenging for everyone. It’s a massive day, with a big build up  and usually full of highs and lows. It’s often a public experience getting your grades in front of other students and teachers and it can mean the confirmation of your hard-worked for dreams or deep disappointment when a few marks appear to separate you from the future that you had planned.

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How to Study Smart and Do Your Best Work.

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How often do we actually stand back and assess the way we are going about things and ask ourselves if this is the best way? This is particularly true of how we study. Many students tell us that they just haven’t been taught how to study. They have been taught what to study and shown how they will be graded on it – but not how to go about learning it in the best possible way.

Focusing on the process of studying rather than the results can improve our motivation, confidence and ultimately our grades.

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 Procrastination – Shall we talk about it now or later? 

In our performance coaching and training sessions with students the number one problem that they raise is the issue of procrastination. It is the first thing that comes up when we talk about the barriers to good performance. We find that procrastination is often triggered by one of these thoughts or beliefs:

  1. “It’s too much” – Leading to overwhelm and shut down.
  2. “I don’t know where to begin” – Leading to making another beautiful revision plan/ essay plan/ career plan etc.
  3. “I don’t need to start yet, there’s still plenty of time” – Leading to putting off the start time all together.

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