mdeducational foundation has had an amazing year, full of growth and exciting improvements. To mention a few; we significantly increased the number of schools we provide funding to, attended the NAPD Annual Conference and launched our services in Ireland. As our CEO, Leah Iles, reflected on the past year, we’re well-prepared for the year ahead, which includes supporting a whole new group of schools and educational settings with the placement of more Wellbeing Leads. By placing these Wellbeing Leads in educational establishments, we’re normalising student psychological fitness and resilience through guidance and early intervention – supporting young people with their wellbeing needs through education and beyond.

As per our values, at mdeducational foundation we stand to educate, enlighten and empower. We don’t just provide schools and educational settings with funding for the placement of a wellbeing professional in their setting and then walk away – we stick around to support their journey as they kickstart their long-term wellbeing strategy.

Our Wellbeing Leads are pioneering a future for better wellbeing for young people, so they are more empowered, no matter what their challenges are. We, therefore, want to make sure our Wellbeing Leads are also supported and empowered to enable them to fulfil their important roles in the best way possible.

To help us align even more closely with our values and support our growing network of Wellbeing Leads, we introduced a new role in our team: Clinical Supervisor. This role provides support and reinforcement to the Wellbeing Leads placed across the UK and Ireland. It helps us to make sure that all of our Wellbeing Leads can benefit from the growing Wellbeing Lead Network, and that schools can learn more ways to support and improve student wellbeing and mental health.

We talked to Catherine Llewellyn, the newest member of mdeducational foundation team, as one of our Clinical Supervisors. Catherine supports several of the schools we provide funding for and works closely with the Wellbeing Leads placed within those educational settings to provide support for them. Join us in getting to know Catherine and learning more about what Clinical Supervisors do to support our Wellbeing Leads.

mdeducational foundation celebrated our Ireland launch as we funded Ireland’s first Wellbeing Lead placement at Mount St Michael Secondary School in Claremorris Mayo and opened the school’s brand-new Wellbeing Hub – Ber’s Warmth! 🦋

Can you tell us about your background and experience in clinical supervision within the context of mental health and wellbeing services?

My background of working with young people goes back more than 30 years, and working therapeutically with them for 10 years. As a qualified Counsellor and Clinical Supervisor, I have had the privilege of working with both young people accessing support through therapy and professionals providing that support.

My most recent experience of working within the context of mental health and wellbeing services was as Clinical Lead within the Health & Wellbeing Centre of a well-known independent boarding school that houses over 700 pupils, aged between 13 and 18 years. My role included working alongside the students but also supporting the staff, parents and other professionals in caring for the mental health needs of the young people they are supporting.

Prior to that, I had gained a wealth of experience working within the MET Team (missing, exploited & trafficked) within Children’s Services and also for a specialist young people’s service working within prevention and response to sexual abuse and domestic violence.

Catherine Llewellyn - Clinical Supervisor at mdeducational foundation

What drew you to the role of Clinical Supervisor at mdeducational foundation, and how do you see your expertise contributing to the charity’s mission?

What initially drew me to this role was the vision of mdeducational foundation, I felt fully aligned with the hope of ‘a world in which every student has access to the wellbeing support that they need without delay’. My knowledge and experience told me how invaluable this vision is for young people; with extensive wait lists preventing access to wellbeing services in general, the ability to access support without delay can be life-enhancing if not – changing. I can tap into the years of experience, knowledge and, of course, training when working with young people and those who work clinically with them.

mdeducational foundation’s mission is for all post-16 students to feel supported in every aspect of their wellbeing, helping them on their journey to a brighter future.

mdeducational foundation vision: A world in which every student has access to the wellbeing support that they need, without delay

What is a Clinical Supervisor, and what do they do to support?

As an accredited member of the British Association of Counsellors and Psychotherapists, I follow an ethical framework that states that clinical supervision is “A specialised form of mentoring provided for practitioners responsible for undertaking challenging work with people. Supervision is provided to ensure standards, enhance quality, advance learning, stimulate creativity, and support the sustainability and resilience of the work being undertaken.”

In terms of a Clinical Supervisor role for mdeducational foundation, I see this as standing alongside support for the Wellbeing Leads within the educational setting. Acknowledging the often-challenging work, ensuring standards, enhancing the quality of service provided, advancing learning through regular supervision, peer supervision, in-person visits and sharing my knowledge of resources, signposting and safeguarding conversations.

Clinical Supervision offers Wellbeing Leads a reflective space in which to develop good practice which in turn, benefits the emotional wellbeing and safety of young people accessing the Wellbeing Hub within their educational setting.

What kind of resources and support do you provide to Wellbeing Leads?

In terms of support, I offer bi-weekly Clinical Supervision sessions, but I am also contactable in between times to offer support or guidance around any area of a Wellbeing Lead’s work.

In terms of resources, I have created a Resource Hub for all Wellbeing Leads to access, that includes worksheets, posters, group programmes and infographics on varying wellbeing topics. These resources are there for Wellbeing Leads to use as inspiration as well as where needed. In addition to this, we have a set of outcome measures, that can be useful when working therapeutically with young people as a way of evaluating the levels of emotional wellbeing and informing their practice of the Wellbeing Lead.

mdeducational foundation has Partnerships and Collaborations with different organisations to ensure we maximise our reach when it comes to educational settings. These also provide our team with resources to support our journey as we aim for a brighter future for our young people. One of our proud collaborations is Childline, which recently met with a group of our Wellbeing Leads based in Northern Ireland. During that wonderful session, Childline introduced the services and resources that are available for our Wellbeing Leads to use and share with students. From our collaboration with Childline and their help, our Wellbeing Leads have high-quality resources that help them to support young people’s wellbeing.

A group of our Wellbeing Leads placed in schools across Northern Ireland met with Childline, with whom mdeducational foundation is proud to collaborate. We had a wonderful session with Childline as they introduced the services and resources that are available for our Wellbeing Leads to use and share with students. From our collaboration with Childline and their help, our Wellbeing Leads have high-quality resources that help them to support young people’s wellbeing.

In the realm of group supervision, how do you foster an environment that supports the professional development of Wellbeing Leads and helps with the growth of the Wellbeing Lead network?

The environment within a group or peer supervision is an important one, and needs nurturing. In order to create a place where relationships and learning can thrive, a sense of safety and belonging needs to first exist – much like for a student in an educational setting.

In group supervision, we can build trusting professional relationships, which aid the ability to learn from one another. A safe place to learn new or different strategies or ways of working, as well as an opportunity to collectively reflect and consider interventions, resources, group programmes or signpostings with fresh perspectives. It’s also a place to receive collective support for those potentially more challenging experiences or ethical considerations, networking together and sharing clinical knowledge and ideas.

Given the remote nature of the role, how do you maintain effective communication and engagement with the Wellbeing Leads to ensure a cohesive and supportive supervisory environment?

Our team of Clinical Supervisors offer all-around support as well as scheduled bi-weekly supervision and termly group/peer supervision. Even if our Wellbeing Leads are spread out in school and educational settings across the UK and Ireland, we make sure to have in-person visits in place as well as providing ongoing support online.

The in-person visits to each Wellbeing Lead within their own Wellbeing Hub are imperative when it comes to building the supervisory relationship and consolidating the remote work that has already begun. I really enjoy meeting the Wellbeing Leads within their Wellbeing Hubs and getting to know them further within their own working environment and the space they have created for their students to access. Having been invited into Wellbeing Hubs, I’ve immediately felt the sense of calm and safety created and promoted by the Wellbeing Lead there.

Wellbeing Hub - safe spaces exclusively set up to support post-16 students within places of education

How do you see the future of mdeducational foundation and your role in that future?

I think mdeducational foundation’s mission of ‘for all post-16 students to feel supported in every aspect of their wellbeing, helping them on their journey to a brighter future’ is the future!

This involves more and more educational settings really understanding and valuing the benefit of a Wellbeing Lead offering support for the post-16 students and their wellbeing.

If students are not given the tools to look after their emotional wellbeing, their ability to focus and learn can be hugely impacted. The feedback gathered from the young people accessing the Wellbeing Hubs will inform the practice of the Wellbeing Leads both now and in the future, to further meet the needs of young people today.

I see my role as a ‘walk alongside’ support to the Wellbeing Leads, providing programmes, drop-ins, group work and 1-to-1 sessions to the post-16 students of each educational setting. I will offer my expertise, clinical knowledge, and experience where required.

To finish up, can you share your favourite wellbeing tip with us?

Oh goodness – I have a few! My favourite wellbeing tip has to be to ‘hug a pug’ (my pug, Dexter, gives great hugs).

As for my most used wellbeing tip, it is to listen to your body and attend to your needs where possible. This consists of three steps:

  1. Feel it – Start by listening to what you are feeling, for example: ‘My palm feels sweaty.’
  2. Acknowledge it – Recognise what you feel and why you might feel like that, for example: ‘Maybe I feel anxious about my upcoming exam.’
  3. Ask yourself what you need – What is it that will make you feel better? (this could be one or many things), for example: ‘I need to take some time out and regulate myself, I need to talk to someone I trust, I need to take a break, I need to reassure myself, I need to plan a treat for after the exam, I need to get some good sleep, I need to enjoy a hot drink or a walk.’

I could fill this page with all the things we might need when we feel dysregulated, but you get the idea! Just remember to:

Feel it.

Acknowledge it.

Ask yourself what you need.

This has worked really well for me, and I can see it being beneficial for Wellbeing Leads to share with their students, showcasing one way to improve their wellbeing and mental health. Such tools and resources are crucial as we help them on their journey to a brighter future.

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Thank you, Catherine, for the insightful interview!

In one of our recent blogs, Catherine shared 5 great wellbeing workshop ideas for schools, check them out here: 5 workshop ideas that schools can use to improve student wellbeing and mental health.

Blog: 5 workshop ideas that schools can use to improve student wellbeing and mental health

Prioritising student wellbeing through education and beyond

mdeducational foundation is a charity that provides a three-year salary-funded commitment to placing dedicated wellbeing professionals within educational settings, enabling them to kickstart their long-term wellbeing strategies.

Learn more about our mission

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