Supporting Mental Health in Schools and Colleges

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

Earlier this month, the Department for Education published research undertaken by NatCen Social Research and the National Children’s Bureau Research and Policy Team ‘Supporting Mental Health in Schools and Colleges’. The DfE commissioned the research to gain a representative profile into mental health provision in schools and colleges.

The research included a combination of a national survey of mental health provision in 2,780 schools and colleges. This is the first time a study of this magnitude has been carried out to assess mental health provision in England.

The report found that schools consider identifying pupils’ specific mental health needs as one of their key roles. However, the most commonly used method of identification of pupils with particular mental health needs is through ad hoc identification by staff. Only 15% of schools conducted universal screening of all pupils to pick up on those with particular issues. However, where schools use measuring tools, the most popular tool was the Boxall Profile, used by over half the schools.

The report found that when supporting pupils with identified needs, nurture groups were also particularly recommended by primary schools. Nurture groups also provided a dedicated space for mental health and wellbeing.

NGN’s pyramidal approach (shown below) encourages universal screening and a whole school approach to wellbeing to accurately identify and support pupils. Where interventions are needed, nurture groups are recommended and further interventions include counselling and one-to-one support. NGN’s approach addresses the concerns raised in the report and support schools in both the identification and provision of mental health support for pupils with particular needs.