BFS Logo
 Bristol Free School

BFS Logo

Image of student

Wellbeing and Mental Health

Emotional wellbeing, mental health, whatever you call it we all have it in varying degrees. Raising children in the modern world is not always easy and whilst life is accompanied with its share of emotional challenges there are times when you, your child or your family would benefit from some support.

At BFS we believe that the emotional wellbeing of our pupils is an integral factor in their future success. We want your child to be able to cope with setbacks and to be resilient to failure, challenge and hardship in all aspects of their lives.

What we do

At BFS we take the wellbeing of our pupils seriously. We carry out a biannual survey that assesses the wellbeing needs of our pupils. It identifies areas where pupils would benefit from more support at the whole school, tutor group or individual level. Pupils have choice in terms of anonymity and we are clear with pupils that when they leave their name then they may be contacted by a member of the pastoral team at BFS.

Our most recent survey suggests that pupils feel BFS is a friendly environment. Questions on bullying, friendship groups, friendliness and caring about others all scored well. Questions that scored less well included:

  • how easily students can talk about their feelings: “not easy but I can”
  • the amount of sleep they are getting: “I usually get enough”
  • how motivated they are to learn: “motivated most of the time”

Year Leaders are looking at anonymised responses within their year groups to ensure that their tutorial programmes are tailored to their year groups’ needs.

Elsewhere, our dedicated band of wellbeing ambassadors continue to support staff and their peers in improving the emotional health of BFS. 

Kindness graffiti

Targeted Wellbeing support

Research suggests that the number of young people being diagnosed with mental health problems is on the increase. It is thought that there are a number of reasons for this including increased stress in the modern world, unhealthy lifestyles and an increase in social media use.

At Bristol Free School we recognise that sometimes students need additional support with supporting mental health and wellbeing and so provide a number of interventions to address this. These are short term and designed to provide students with skills to cope in place of removing causes of any emotional distress. These interventions may be delivered 1:1 or as part of a small group and focus on areas such as anxiety, self-harm and social skills. Please speak to your child’s year leader if your child may benefit from this sort of intervention and a referral will be put into the Lead Learning Mentor. They will then contact you if there is availability and if they feel that intervention is what is needed.

5 ways to Wellbeing

Evidence suggests that a small improvement in wellbeing can help to decrease some mental health problems and also help people to flourish. A document, produced by the New Economics Foundation (NEF) used by the government (found here), sets out 5 actions to improve personal wellbeing:

  1. connect
  2. be active
  3. take notice
  4. keep learning
  5. give

For children, it is thought that a sixth way (play) helps to improve and maintain wellbeing.

Here at Bristol Free School we keep these actions as a focus in our wellbeing promotion with a number of Wellbeing Ambassadors taking a lead on each. We suggest that you mirror this focus at home and ensure that your child is connecting with people, staying active, practicing mindfulness, learning new things, giving to others and spending time engaged in creative play. 


Information and support - specific mental health issues

  • General wellbeing:
  • Suicide:
    • CALM (Campaign Against Men Living Miserably) – helpline – 0800 585858
    • HOPELineUK – 0800 068 41 41 – advice for parents of young people at risk of suicide. 
    • NHS Choices - Suicide

Support for parents

We work closely with a number of external agencies within Bristol to support parents who are struggling. We do not judge those who ask for support negatively and instead see it as an indicator of strength that they are seeking out help. We can help you with referrals / applications to:

  • Early help
  • Parenting course (PPAPs)

The following links may also be useful:




Shelf help is available from your local library (or a good book store!) Reading Well books are available on a range of mental health issues. Michael Rosen’s sad book is such an example. A powerful read.

Where can you turn?

  • Support for your child

Your GP will be able to offer help and guidance. You could also ask school or ask for a referral for your child to the school nurse. The youth wellbeing directory is a list (12 pages!) of agencies that work with young people to provide mental health support and counselling.

This useful guide has been provided by CAMHS and will provide further helpful information. 

  • Support for you

Bristol Crisis Service – a telephone triage and referral/signposting service for individuals in mental health crisis, their family and friends. 0300 555 03 34

The Samaritans – 24-7 support for anyone in emotional distress – helpline - 116123

Bristol Mind – Local mental health charity - helpline - 01179080370

Wellaware – a local information database for health, wellbeing and community services in Bristol. - 08008085252

  • Finding a therapist

Counsellors and psychotherapists are listed in the Yellow Pages. The following organisations have national lists of therapists:

The British Psychological Society –

British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Therapy –

British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy –