Mental health and wellbeing in schools

Thursday 16 March 2017 - Elisa Mascellani, Senior Policy and Public Affairs Officer

In a report published today, the BBC is calling for schools to do more on mental health. In a survey of more than 1,000 UK-based 11- to 16- year olds they found that over 70% had experienced negative feelings in the past year, ranging from feeling upset and unhappy, to anxious, frightened or unsafe and 11% described themselves as “unhappy” overall.

Already this year we have seen the issue of support within schools for children’s mental health and wellbeing come further up with political agenda with the Prime Minister’s speech at the beginning of the year promising more work in schools to support children’s mental health. Other than mental health first aid training, the details are limited but there was further welcome discussion on the need for early intervention and prevention to support children’s mental health and wellbeing in schools in a debate in Parliament. 

Now we need to see the rhetoric turned into a reality with more investment in early support for children’s wellbeing and mental health. Further training, support and resources are needed for school staff to enable them to support the mental health and wellbeing of their pupils.

Furthermore, schools need a more accurate picture of the mental health of their pupils. That is why, in our Nurture Portrait, the first edition of an annual portrayal of the social, emotional and behavioural difficulties experienced by children and young people across the UK.

In the report, we recommend using the Boxall Profile (a teacher led assessment that measures children and young people's level of emotional and behavioural functioning) in all schools to identify and respond as early as possible to pupils’ social emotional and behavioural difficulties and needs. We believe this is a critical first step that local authorities and schools should take to help teachers to understand the wellbeing of the children in their classes and to ensure those who need it are supported at the earliest possible stage.