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Over 95% young people say mental ill health has affected their school work

Ninety six per cent of young people have reported that their mental health has affected their school work at some point, according to a survey by mental health charity Mind.

The charity has carried out an inquiry into secondary education and mental health which concluded that too many young people in secondary schools across England are being denied vital mental health support at school and by mental health services.

David Stephenson, Senior Policy and Campaigns Officer at Mind, said: “The prioritisation of academic achievement cannot be at the expense of mental wellbeing. As a young person struggling with your mental health, learning and taking part in school life can be a significant challenge. What you want is for someone to listen to you, try to understand what is happening and help you get the support you need. Our inquiry has found that this isn’t happening.”

As part of its inquiry, Mind consulted with over 2,870 young people, parents/caregivers of young people affected by mental health problems, mental health professionals and school staff across England.

The charity found that:

  • Almost seven in 10 young people reported being absent from school due to their mental health.
  • Some young people said their mental health problems were treated as bad behaviour, rather than them being supported to address underlying issues.
  • Some reported being sent into isolation, physically restrained, or excluded from school for this reason.

Mind is urging a significant re-think of the way that schools respond to young people experiencing behavioural problems because of mental health problems and trauma.

The Inquiry also revealed:

  • 62% of young people received no support from school for their mental health.
  • Nearly half of young people had been disciplined at school for behaviour that was related to their mental health. In the most severe cases, young people reported being physically restrained and put in isolation away from friends and peers.
  • One in four school staff (25 per cent) were aware of a student being excluded from school because of their mental health.
  • 17% of young men with mental health problems had been excluded (either permanently or temporarily) in comparison to fewer than 7% of young women.

Mind also found that the 70 per cent of young people who experienced racism in school told us that their experience had impacted on their mental health. The charity is calling for the introduction of legislation to require schools to report incidents of racism.

Mind has joined forces with children and young people’s mental health charity YoungMinds to #FundTheHubs - calling on the UK government to invest in support hubs, which provide easy-to-access, early support for young people aged 11-25 in their communities from a range of trained professionals.

David Stephenson added: “We know that many teachers feel overstretched and work incredibly hard with limited resources. We are not asking teachers to be mental health professionals. However, we need to think again about how we address behaviour in schools, so those with the greatest need receive help, not punishment. There needs to be more support for schools to meet the needs of young people experiencing mental health problems and a radical rethink of discipline. We want to see the banning of isolation as a disciplinary measure, as this can contribute to poor mental health.

“The UK government must also set out duties in legislation that require schools to report restrictive interventions. They must also take into consideration young people experiencing racism, which has gone unaddressed for too long. Our inquiry heard how racism significantly impacts young people’s mental health, yet the UK government’s failure to require schools to report on racist incidents means the true scale of racism in schools remains unidentified and the full impact unknown.”

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