How Can Schools Support Children with Mental Health Issues? Half of all mental health issues are established by the time a child reaches the age of 14, with one in every ten children having a diagnosable condition by the age of 16. The incredibly young age at which mental health issues become established means that schools play a critical role in preventing, identifying, and supporting children with mental health illnesses.
According the Department of Education’s Supporting Mental Health in Schools and Colleges report, 87% of institutions have a policy to support children with mental health issues, with 94% of schools actively monitoring the success of the support. Counselling and educational psychological support are two of the most common systems in place to help children with mental health issues – found in 61% of institutions.
As well as counselling and educational psychological support, there are other ways that schools can support children with mental health issues and promote a positive mental health environment at the same time. Here are three examples of how schools can offer improved support:
1) Talk About Mental Health
One of the best ways that schools can support children with mental health issues is to talk about it. Even in 2019, there’s still some stigma attached to mental health disorders, particularly with conditions like schizophrenia.
Building a school environment where positive mental health is a key part of school life helps children to feel like they can openly communicate about problems that they’re experiencing. Not only will talking about mental health help to combat the existing stigma and make children aware of mental health, but it’ll give students struggling with disorders more confidence to speak out.
Research supports the concept of creating a whole-school approach to supporting mental health. Results of a recent study show that interventions, when delivered in a school with a school-wide framework for mental health promotion, can benefit children who need extra support.
2) Provide Teachers with Mental Health Training
New survey results from the Mental Health Foundation Scotland reveal that teachers don’t feel prepared to support students with mental health issues. In the survey, 71% of teachers revealed that they don’t have the skills to help pupils, with only 13% of teachers saying they had received training. 92% of teachers responded that there should be mental health training for teachers.
Providing teachers with additional mental health training could greatly improve mental illness prevention and identification, as well as support for students with mental health disorders. Because teachers who understand mental illness in greater depth could also help to build a positive school environment and reduce the stigma attached to mental illness.
3) Mindfulness and Mental Health Programmes
The UK has a large number of charities that work with schools to support students with mental health issues. There are also a number of charities that help schools to create positive mental health environments.
The Mindfulness in Schools Project (MiSP) is a nationwide programme that helps primary and secondary schools to teach children mindfulness. It has been proven that mindfulness courses can help to prevent depression and reduce stress. Place2Be is another charity that provides mental health support programmes and services to hundreds of primary and secondary schools; they also offer training courses to schools.
Getting help from established organisations that provide mental health support services is a great way for schools to better support their pupils, both in learning about mental health and living with mental health illnesses.
These days, it’s becoming easier for schools to establish a positive mental health environment, where pupils get the support they need.
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