With the start of the new academic year it has become clear that expectations and demands placed on schools in terms of mental health support have increased. More responsibility is being placed on schools to deal with mental health issues faced by their pupils. This has been justified by claims that mental health training for teachers will be provided but as demonstrated by the headteachers march on Friday 28th September 2018, schools are struggling enough already to provide the resources their children and staff need.
Mental Health First Aid Training
Many are praising the provision of Mental health first aid training in schools but is this really an appropriate solution? Placing more responsibility on schools due to a lack of resources in the NHS when schools are already facing a fall in their own resources doesn’t bode well the for future of our children. Dr Wendy Sim’s Schouten’s Conversation article discusses the implications that this might have long-term.
A GCSE in Wellbeing
The impact that this has on teachers and their own mental health is apparent. Teachers have more than enough to cope with already with increased demands placed upon them and many teachers report working in excess of fifty hours per week. So, placing the responsibility of pupils’ mental health on them in addition and justifying this by saying they have been provided training is perhaps a burden they shouldn’t have to bear.
Teachers’ mental health is paramount. If they do not have good mental health themselves this will reflect on their pupils. Many teachers have expressed concern that by not looking after their own mental health, they are putting their pupils’ progress at risk, with many claiming,
“I just want to get through the day,”
And others stating that they find it difficult to care as much when they are feeling depressed themselves or that the impact this has on their concentration and fatigue affects their teaching. #perhaps to support the mental health of pupils’ it is time for teachers to lead by example and attend wellbeing workshops to then provide a GCSE in Wellbeing.
Kids in Crisis
On Monday 24th September BBC One Panorama aired ‘Kids in Crisis’ which looked at the harsh reality of the mental health system in Britain today and the impact that long waits and high thresholds have on our children with some parents being told their child would have to attempt suicide before they would be seen. This is not in line with the ‘prevention and early intervention’ policy we have been led to believe as touted in the governments February 2018 paper, Looking to the Future – Improving Mental Health Outcomes for Children and Young People.
For the Future
The Mental Health First Aid England’s Supporting Organisation is Family Links, who strive to achieve mental and emotional wellbeing of families through the provision of support programmes for parents, children and schools. They strive for a family life utopia of balance between everyone who is involved with family life. Through the provision of education and training it is hope that this can be achieved. However, the key message here is to look at the provision and utilisation of resources. With troubling times ahead. Perhaps the government needs a new strategy.
Blog post written by Kayleigh Rivett, Support Officer (Themes) for the Research and Innovation Services at the University of Portsmouth (@uopresearch).