A group of students wearing school uniform sit at their desks in a classroom and write in their textbooks.

Problems at school

Everyone worries about things that happen at school from time to time. Lots of people, like you, will experience something difficult or have to work through a problem during school.

There’s a lot of pressure to get good results, make lots of friends, do well in every subject and be a ‘good student’. These stresses during school can sometimes feel too much. The important thing is to recognise when there’s a problem and ask for help as soon as you can.

Some school problems you might worry about include:

  • finding schoolwork difficult, or having problems concentrating in class if others are noisy and disruptive
  • exam stress
  • tricky relationships with friends and friendship groups
  • finding lunchtime difficult, particularly if you have eating problemsanorexia or bulimia 
  • not getting on with teachers, or feeling like you are labelled as 'trouble'
  • bullying
  • receiving inappropriate comments from classmates or teachers; when these are of a sexual nature it is known as sexual harassment - look at Childline's website for more information and advice
  • problems at home - your parents’ relationship, sibling issues, a housing problem or simply feeling unsupported
  • returning to school after having time away to look after your mental or physical health
  • going to school with anxietydepressionOCD or any other mental health condition
  • going back to school after being excluded, expelled or suspended
  • specific difficulties such as dyslexia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), dyspraxia, or autism

If you are experiencing any these problems, you might find that it is affecting how you feel both when you’re at school and at home. Remember, you are not alone. There are people who will listen to you and support you through these difficult times.

Please remember that, although school is important, it isn’t worth sacrificing your mental health for. You don’t need to be the best to be good enough.

How problems at school can impact your mental health

If you are struggling with problems at school, you might find everyday tasks like getting ready in the morning or having lunch with your friends becoming more difficult. You might start to feel down or lower in confidence. You might also:

  • feel anxious on your way to school, thinking about what might happen that day
  • withdraw from sharing your ideas in class or chatting to your friends at lunch
  • not feel as confident in yourself or your work
  • feel less motivated to do your school work or homework
  • get headaches or stomach aches thinking about school
  • see your marks drop because you find it very difficult to focus
  • get stressed and angry at things that didn’t make you feel this way before
A young Black man sitting in the park with a Black teenage boy wearing a hearing aid. They are both looking very serious.

If you are feeling like this, sometimes you might not want to go into school, or even refuse to go in. In extreme cases, some people may truant (not go to school) without their parents knowing.

It’s important to remember you won't always feel this way about school. Things can get better. If any of these problems are affecting your daily life, it’s a good idea to tell someone you trust about how you’re feeling. With the right help and support, you can work through the problems you are having at school.

a teacher sits beside a student to help her as she answer her exam
Schools should be able to make all students feel supported and not ashamed to say they’re struggling with their mental health.

What you can do if you're struggling at school

If you’re worried about anything at school, it’s important to talk to a trusted adult like your class tutor or your parents/carer as soon as possible. They can help you to talk with the school about the problems you are having.

If you’re being bullied at school, you need to tell someone like your teacher or your parents/carer. By telling your teacher what is going on, it will help your school tackle the issue. Your school will often have a set way of helping students. We have lots more information about bullying and how you can get help.

Get help with dealing with bullying

If you have specific difficulties such as dyslexia, ADHD, dyspraxia, or autism, you can get support from your school’s Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCO). SENCO’s are there to make sure that you get the right support during lessons and can give you extra help.

If you have stopped attending school, an Education Welfare Officer will work with you and your family to support your return to school. An Education Welfare Officer can help make sure you get the support you need going back to school including things like extra funding from the council to help your family pay for school meals.

If you are struggling at school because of stress, pressure or a mental health condition, then you might need a little extra support. Try talking to your GP. They can work with you to help understand what support you might need like therapy or counselling

Check out our guide to speaking to your GP to find out more about how your doctor can help you. However you are feeling about what you’re going through at school, you deserve to get the help and support you need.

How to speak to your GP
A student wearing uniform sits on a desk lost in a thought with their hand over their mouth, they sit next to another student who is focused on the lesson.
I spoke with my counsellor about my struggles with anxiety and low moods. She made me feel like I had a safe space to share my pain. I was really lucky that she took the time to understand my struggles and what I was going through.

Tips from our Activists and bloggers

Our Activists and bloggers share their tips on overcoming problems at school:

A girl starting at the camera in the park.
Through my school years, I had been put in top sets and given extra work. I was considered a ‘high achiever’ which sounds great… right? But this meant that there was so much pressure for me to do well in all my exams and keep improving, it really was bitter sweet.

To anyone else who is struggling with schoolwork: remember exams are important, but your mental health comes first.
Me, my school and my mental health
  • Look into your options more closely – your school may have a support system, but you just might not be aware of it.
  • School can be a great place for socialising, but don't feel you have to at the expense of your own happiness or to 'keep the peace'.
  • Dysfunctional friendships can ruin your school experience, so be honest with yourself about which relationships are healthy and which aren't.
  • I know it can feel like it'll never get better, but it's important not to lose hope. Try and push yourself to go out of your comfort zone. It's not easy, but it's worth it.

Real stories about problems at school

Get help now

Whatever you're going through, you don't have to go through it alone. Here are some services that can support you. 

  • Samaritans

    Whatever you're going through, you can contact the Samaritans for support. N.B. This is a listening service and does not offer advice or intervention.

    Opening times:
  • Childline

    If you’re under 19 you can confidentially call, chat online or email about any problem big or small.

    Sign up for a free Childline locker (real name or email address not needed) to use their free 1-2-1 counsellor chat and email support service.

    Can provide a BSL interpreter if you are deaf or hearing-impaired.

    Hosts online message boards where you can share your experiences, have fun and get support from other young people in similar situations.

    Opening times:
  • Youth Access

    Provides information about local counselling and advice services for young people aged 11-25.

    Put in your location and what you need help with into their 'Find help' search, and see what services are available in your area.

More on looking after yourself

We have more tips, information and advice that can help you get through this.

Whether you love the page or think something is missing, we appreciate your feedback. It all helps us to support more young people with their mental health.

Please be aware that this form isn’t a mental health support service. If you are in crisis right now and want to talk to someone urgently, find out who to contact on our urgent help page.

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This form is not a mental health support service. We cannot reply to this. If you are at risk of immediate harm, call 999 and ask for an ambulance or go to your nearest A&E. If you are worried about your mental health, call: Childline (for under 19s) on 0800 11 11; or Samaritans on 116 123.

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