Should Mental Health be more of a Priority in Schools?

“Such widespread concern among school leaders about pupils’ wellbeing should be a wake-up call to society as a whole. Mental health issues, domestic violence, bullying and drugs have implications that reach beyond the school gates, and can seriously impact on the future prospects of those affected.”
Fergal Roche, chief executive of The Key

A recent survey found that mental health problems among children are a growing concern for schools. Conducted by The Key, an organisation which provides management support for schools, found that 67% of headteachers were worried about student mental health – a 57% rise from last year.

What is being done in schools currently, and can more be done to help support students who may be experiencing some form of mental health issue?

What is the issue?

Mental health has been a growing concern for schools over the past few years. The National Union of Teachers (NUT) says that exam focus can damage mental health, while Michael Gove’s recent school reforms ‘ignored’ the rise in pupils’ mental health issues.

One in four people will experience some form of mental health issue in their lives, regardless of their age. In 2012 8.2 million students were said to be attending 24,372 schools in the UK – meaning that roughly 2,050,000 pupils could be at risk of developing mental health issues during the school year.

What is being done?

In March the Secretary of State for Education, Nicky Morgan, announced new measures to help ensure that students who may be suffering in silence have the support they need to keep themselves safe and healthy, while helping classmates develop an understanding of the problems they’re facing.

The new step-change means that children will be supported inside and outside the classroom. A brand new guidance for schools in conjunction with the PSHE Association, providing schools with age-appropriate teaching on mental health problems including anxiety, depression, eating disorders and self-harm.

The blueprint offers advice on school counselling services, providing headteachers with advice on how to deliver top-quality school counselling services that meets the need of those suffering.

A multi-million-pound funding injection for organisations that offer volunteer services to young people suffering from mental health issues was also announced. A new funding commitment worth £4.9 million through the government’s voluntary and community sector funding programme, aims to provide a greater support network to young people with mental health issues.

Do you think enough is being done to tackle mental health issues in schools? Or is it too little too late? Share your thoughts with us on social media!

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