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Supporting ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) Teachers with issues of Migration, Mental Health, and Self-harming Behaviour

Arguably, the Transforming Children and Young People’s Mental Health Provision Green Paper (2017) initiated a much-needed debate over who is to be accountable for initiating and providing mental health support to young people in the community. Whilst acknowledging that teachers in schools and colleges in the UK are ‘working incredibly hard to support their pupils’, the British government has also acknowledged that teachers cannot do this on their own and has pledged to support them and to provide them with ‘access to the training they need’ (Government Response to the Children and Young People’s Mental Health Green Paper Consultation 2018, p. 4). Nevertheless, the training that has been provided to teachers in schools and colleges has come in the form of first aid courses and other one size fit-all programmes, mostly online but occasionally delivered by NHS professionals. This training does not seem to be specific enough to address the needs of teachers in different contexts nor does it seem to provide teachers with the necessary tools, leaving teachers with negative behaviours and attitudes and feeling fearful and anxious about having to intervene when such issues arise (Best, 2006, Evans et al., 2018).

This study comes as the result of my ongoing research and reflection while teaching ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) with the purpose of trying to understand and find ways to support students whose life history and migration trajectory may have led to mental health issues and self-harming behaviour. Having found that the voices of ESOL students and teachers are under-represented in the literature, the study takes a qualitative case study approach, drawing upon data from literature reviews, interviews with ESOL students and teachers, secondary data analysis, participant observations, field notes and reflections. Using the data collected I sought to create a tool that would support ESOL teachers when encountering these issues for the first time.

The conclusion drawn is that it is necessary to explore the experience and accounts of teachers and students in different contexts in order to create training that is personalised and targets specific professionals for training to be successful.

Mon 03 Feb 2020, 14:42