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Children’s mental health week. Is your school ready? 2020 school leader survey results.

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Date 3rd Feb 2020

Results of a new survey published by school leaders’ union NAHT and children’s mental health charity Place2Be reveal that the number of schools commissioning professional help for children’s mental health issues has increased significantly since 2016.

In 2016, just over a third (36 per cent) of schools in England provided school-based support for students’ emotional and mental wellbeing. By 2019, this had almost doubled to 66 per cent. The findings are released on the first day of Children’s Mental Health Week (3-9 February 2020).  

This latest survey was completed by 653 school leaders at the end of 2019 and the findings show an improved understanding and recognition of children’s mental health in schools. However, access to external NHS help has not improved, and more schools are now buying in their own support.

Other findings from the school leaders surveyed indicated:

  • 74 per cent of school leaders said the majority of their staff are confident at recognising the signs of mental health problems among children and young people (versus 61 per cent in 2017)
  • 79 percent agreed their school has a whole school approach to promoting positive mental health and wellbeing
  • 78 per cent said there is a designated member of staff responsible for mental wellbeing in their school or college
  • 67 per cent said staff have undertaken training to help them identify pupils with mental health needs or problems
  • 66 per cent agreed that pupils feel confident to talk to staff and peers about their mental wellbeing

Although the survey also reveals an improved picture of mental health understanding and support in schools overall, only 54 per cent of school leaders think their staff would be confident in knowing how to respond when mental health is negatively affecting pupils (compared to 47 per cent in 2017).

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said: “We know that early intervention is absolutely key when it comes to mental health and wellbeing. Teachers are on the frontline for children’s mental health, but they are not qualified medical specialists. Where schools consider that a pupil’s needs go beyond their experience and expertise, their role is to refer those pupils to other professionals to address those needs, and they should be able to expect timely and effective support”.

Read the NAHT / Place2Be survey results press release here.

Further support 

Supporting Wellbeing and Mental Health in Schools course

The OLT Supporting Wellbeing and Mental Health in Schools course is perfect for education professionals who work with children in schools, such as teachers, teaching assistants, SENCO’s and school leaders. The course will enable you to:

  • explore the concepts of wellbeing and mental health, the main influences on these, and the impact on pupil outcomes. Learn about the main types of mental health disorder and their incidence, and the relationship between mental health and disability.
  • consider the possible uses of wellbeing surveys and questionnaires in schools, and learn the guidelines for administering them and evaluating the results.
  • understand the main elements of a supportive school ethos, including staff wellbeing. Explore a range of approaches to support wellbeing and mental health in your school, from whole-school to specific, and know when and where to seek further support.

Find out more by visiting our Supporting Wellbeing and Mental Health in Schools course page. 



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