There has been a "significant rise" in the number of schools commissioning school-based counsellors, research has found.
There were 36% of schools in England providing school-support for students' emotional and mental wellbeing in 2016 and this rose to 66% in 2019, the study by the National Association of Head-Teachers and children's mental health charity Place2Be found.
Catherine Roche, Chief Executive at Place2Be: “In this, Children’s Mental Health Week, we want to highlight that school staff need support to deal with the many and often complex emotional issues of their pupils. At Place2Be, we work with schools leaders to help them better understand mental health and to develop a ‘whole school approach’ to improving mental health, so that pupils can focus on their learning. But schools cannot tackle this problem alone. They need expert help in school, backed up by NHS services that can step in when more specialist support is required."
The survey also shows an improved understanding and recognition of children’s mental health in schools. Almost three quarters of school leaders said the majority of their staff are confident at recognising the signs of mental health problems among children and young people, compared to 61 per cent in 2017.
Seventy four per cent of school leaders also said the majority of their staff would be confident understanding the issues that may underlie children’s and young people’s behaviour in 2019, compared to 68% in 2017. More than 80 per cent said the majrity of staff would be confident understanding how children and young people’s mental health impacts on their engagement with learning compared to 77% in 2017.
Three children in every classroom has a mental health problem, so the research says it is positive to see these results which show that more school leaders are responding to this need by providing professional support for children and young people within school.
Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said: “There is still concern that when children do have more serious mental health needs professional help is not easily available. 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.”
Research available here