An increasing number of children and young people are developing mental health problems in the UK, and the statistics make for grim reading.
- Suicide is the leading cause of death of young people in the UK
- 10% of school children have a diagnosable mental illness
- 75% of children and young people with mental health problems aren’t getting the treatment they desperately need
- The amount of children and young people calling Childline and reporting that they are having suicidal thoughts has doubled
So what’s behind this and what does it mean for those on the front line, like teachers, who see the effects of this first-hand? Here’s how schools can promote good mental health.
What kind of issues cause poor mental health in children?
Exam stress and pressure to succeed
There is more pressure than ever on children and young people than to pass exams, and they are constantly fed the message that not succeeding in school will ruin their chances of having a good future.
Negative social media comparisons and cyber bullying
Many children compare themselves unfavourably to others on social media and try to live up to impossible ideals. Being constantly accessible and contactable outside of school also leaves the way open for bullying to continue after hours via instant messaging on social media platforms.
Demands and struggles in their personal lives
Some children and young people act as carers for a relative and this can cause them a huge amount of stress. Other issues like struggling with their sexuality, poverty, or living with a parent with mental health or substance misuse issues can also contribute to poor mental health.
How can schools promote good mental health?
Because they see children on most days of the week, teachers and other school staff can play an important role in promoting good mental health. Teachers and other staff can:
Keep the door open
Children should be able to talk to teachers about any problems they might have, so staff should tell them that they are there to listen and understand, not judge. Feeling like they have someone to talk to will reduce isolation and worry.
Talk about mental health in school
Despite all of the fantastic work that’s being done, mental health remains a bit of a taboo topic and pupils who are suffering from mental ill health can feel too ashamed to talk about it. Making a point of talking about mental health in schools can go a long way towards challenging the stigma around it and make more young people feel able to speak out. Mental health can be spoken about in designated lessons, talks, or assemblies.
Organise events that promote wellbeing
Schools can organise things like health walks, mindfulness sessions, or fun sponsored events to raise funds for a mental health charity.
Give teachers mental health training
The key to understanding mental health problems and how to help is education, and giving staff mental health training can help them spot the signs of mental ill health early on, as well as knowing how to help children and young people get the support they need.
Make sure everyone gets support
Of course, teachers are there to educate and look out for the welfare of pupils, but they can only be helpful if they look after their own mental health too. Our mental health training courses can help staff be more aware of their own mental health and how to look after it while they are supporting pupils.
Do you want to promote mental health in your school?
Do you want to train your staff on how to spot mental health problems and offer help to pupils on a first aid basis?
Our Youth Mental Health First Aid training can help you understand some common mental health conditions and how to support pupils so they get the help they need a lot quicker.
You can register your interest our training by using the form on our contact page. The course tutor will then get in touch with you to discuss your needs. If you’d like any more information on any of our courses, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07917062257.