Teachers Are Not Fully Equipped to Tackle Mental Health

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4 Jan 2016

Two thirds of teachers feel they lack the appropriate training to help identify mental health issues in pupils according to a new report.

The National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) poll found that while six in ten of those surveyed (62%) felt able to identify behaviour that could be linked to mental health issues, only one in three (32%) felt they received appropriate mental health training to identify problems in pupils. The NFER report suggests that these findings show that school staff are gaining knowledge on how to deal with mental health issues by other means than in-school training.

Supporting Pupils

Of ways to support pupils’ mental health in schools, over half of respondents listed training staff on mental health and wellbeing as a useful strategy. The three most useful strategies identified by respondents were:

  • counselling services for pupils (60%)
  • training for staff on mental health and wellbeing (52%)
  • strong engagement with families and young people (29%

In comparison, when asked what strategies were already being provided by schools to support pupils’ mental health, training for staff on mental health and wellbeing did not feature. The main three strategies in schools according to the respondents were:

  • counselling for pupils (62%)
  • strong engagement of families and young people (42%)
  • teaching age-appropriate lessons about mental health (29%)

Warning Signs

Speaking about the pressures of dealing with pupils’ mental health issues, Lucie Russel – Director of Media and Campaigns at YoungMinds, said that teachers are left feeling helpless with the increasing need for mental health support. She said:

It is vitally important that teachers know the warning signs of emerging mental health issues, so that they can look out for any changes in their pupils, and act on any concerns they have.”

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