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Inquiry launched into behaviour and mental health in schools

An inquiry into behaviour and mental health in schools has been launched by the Children and Young People’s Mental Health Coalition.

Children in primary school

The coalition wants to explore the links between mental health and behaviour, how current school policies on behaviour are impacting young people and their families, and to understand what role a whole school approach to mental health and wellbeing can play in improving behaviour, mental health and wellbeing.

“Coalition members have long been concerned that often children and young people get punished for behaviour that is linked to their mental health, and that responses to behaviour, like the use of isolation rooms and exclusion, can further harm young people’s mental health,” said a statement from the coalition.

The inquiry is set against a backdrop of rising mental health need among children and young people, with one in six children and young people aged 6 to 16 experiencing a mental health problem in 2021 compared to one in nine in 2017.

There is an emerging body of evidence that highlights the link between behaviours that challenge and mental health problems amongst children and young people.

The coalition wants to better understand the drivers of poor behaviour, such as mental health, trauma and inequality, with evidence suggesting that these groups are disproportionately impacted by punitive approaches to behaviour management.

The inquiry, which will be focused on primary and secondary schools in England, also aims to gather best practice examples.

The inquiry will have two key stages:

  1. A call for evidence which will consist of surveys for professionals, young people, and parent and carers.
  2. Virtual evidence sessions will be held with key stakeholders.

“We want to make sure that the voices of young people and parent and carers are placed at the heart of the inquiry. That’s why we have established a Youth Advisory Group and a Parent-Carer Advisory Group to help inform the inquiry and to provide expert advice as the inquiry progresses,” said the coalition statement.

There is more information about the call to evidence here which is open until 10 June 2022.

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