Opinion Former Article

Teachers need professional support in dealing with pupil's mental health issues

Responding to today’s publication of a joint Education & Health Committee report into the role of education in supporting children’s mental health, the NASUWT, the largest teachers’ union in the UK, has called on the next UK Government to ensure schools have greater access to much-needed support from mental health professionals.

The call comes after an NASUWT survey last month revealed 98% of teachers knew of pupils in their school experiencing mental health problems, some as young as three and four-years-old.

Teachers reported that on a daily basis they were dealing with pupils experiencing anxiety, panic attacks, depression and eating disorders, and in extreme cases even self-harm and suicidal thoughts, yet accessing expert external psychological support for students was becoming increasingly difficult.

While over half of 2000 teachers responding to the survey (54%) said they were fairly confident they would recognise the signs of a possible mental health problem in their pupils, alarmingly more than three quarters (76%) were not confident they would be able to get timely support from expert services such as CAMHS (children and adolescent mental health services).

Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, said:

“Teachers and school leaders take very seriously their duty of care to their students and it is clear there is a great deal of concern in the profession about the gulf in the availability of expert physiological support and counselling for pupils with mental health needs.

“While teachers are committed to doing all they can to support their pupils, they are not trained health professionals, and as a nation we are putting their long-term health and prospects at risk if we don’t provide them with access to the specialist support they need as soon as possible.”

“Schools cannot address this issue alone and cuts to budgets and services in local authorities, health and education have all taken a heavy toll on the support available, therefore we are calling on all political parties to urgently look again at this issue and make it a priority for any incoming UK Government.”

ENDS

For more information please contact

NASUWT Press Office contacts:
Simon Houltby 07920 711 069

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