There is a growing crisis of young people’s mental health in the UK. 75% of mental health illnesses begins before the age of 19 and 3 children in an average classroom are affected by a diagnosable condition. In 2017, 79% of teachers in both primary and secondary schools reported seeing an increase in stress, anxiety and panic attacks in their pupils as well as a rise in depression, self harm and eating disorders.
So what can schools do to try and improve this?
Let’s get comfortable about mental health
We need to get comfortable talking about mental health, this is to increase children’s understanding of mental health and to help break the stigma of it. If this doesn’t happen pupils may not realise that their mental health is slowly deteriorating, making it worse. As their mental health declines they may get too embarrassed to get help. If pupils and teachers talk more openly about this it will be easier for the adult and themselves to identify the problems.
Mental health should be spoken about the same way as healthy eating and physical education.
Create a safe space at school
Children excel in school when they feel safe, so as teachers you should ensure bullying incidents, are low and addressed as soon as possible this also includes cyberbullying. When students feel safe and have a good maintained relationship with their peers and teachers they feel more understood and listened too when they have to raise any concerns they have.
Everyone should be supportive
Everyone must be supportive with mental health.This includes teachers, teaching assistants, lunch staff, school nurse etc. All have a role in improving their schools environment, this makes the pupils feel more open in talking about their mental health.
BUT staff need to look after their own mental health also, staff can only be there for pupils if they are mentally okay themselves. Everyone should be looking out for each other, be there for the staff that need extra support on their bad days. Research shows that when staff are trained in mental health they are more confident in supporting their students.
Teachers should know what to do
Head Teachers should demand for every teacher in their school to go on a course for mental health or see if they do have any mental health training. This will benefit the school as teachers will feel so much more confident noticing the deterioration of students mental health and being able to them as soon as they possibly can.
It takes more than one individual to help someone. Everyone needs to come together and help that individual who is in need of help. Children’s mental health isn’t something that can be helped by a handful of people, it involves EVERYONE in the building to come together and help. It is so important for staff and pupils to communicate with each other on the issues.
Thankfully, there are a lot more schools that do work with parents and that do have staff as mentors for vulnerable students to give them additional support. Another popular way schools have helped with mental health in schools is introducing mentoring. When children will be partnered up with an older pupil and that pupil will look out for them. This is also a good way to get children socialising.
Another popular way schools have helped with mental health is running extra curricular social activities for pupils. This has shown to help have a positive impact on students, as they are being given space for them to be able to work through their emotions and develop ways to address their challenges.
At The Midlands Training Company we offer a Mental Health Awareness for Schools 1 Day Course. The Mental Health Awareness course for Schools, is targeted towards learning mentors that offer support to students however, schools may wish to book other staff that could benefit from the course. If you would like more information please click the link https://www.themidlandstrainingcompany.co.uk/product/mental-health-awareness-for-schools-copy/ or call 02476 714873.