New survey shows children's mental heath and wellbeing should be at heart of school experience

By agency reporter
October 12, 2018

More than one in 10 children (11 per cent) aged between 10 and 15 say they have no one to talk to or would not talk to anyone in school if they feel worried or sad, according to a new survey commissioned by the Mental Health Foundation (MHF).

The survey marks the launch of the MHF's new Make it Count campaign to ensure every child in the UK receives an education with mental health at its heart.

The YouGov survey of 1,323 schoolchildren in Britain also determined how feelings of being 'worried or sad' affected their wellbeing and behaviour, finding that: 

  • nearly four in ten (38 per cent) said that it caused them difficulty with going to sleep
  • more than a quarter (27 per cent) said they got into fights or arguments 
  • more than one in four (26 per cent) said that it caused them to struggle to do their homework
  • more than one in four (27 per cent) did not want to be around others. 

The campaign is being launched at a time when there is already widespread evidence of a mental health crisis among young people. According to Public Health England, 10 per cent of children and young people in England (aged five to 16) have a clinically diagnosable mental health problem.  

Dr Antonis Kousoulis, Associate Director at the Mental Health Foundation said: "Our survey provides shocking further evidence of the growing crisis in the mental health of children. Nearly half a million children in the country have no one to speak to at school when they are experiencing feelings of sadness or worry. That is plainly unacceptable. 

"We believe that many mental health problems are preventable, but for prevention to work for children, changes need to take place in our schools, from primary level upwards. This is why we are campaigning for mental health to have much greater priority in our children's education.  

"We know there are many schools that are doing excellent things in this area, often in difficult circumstances, but this needs to keep improving and be consistent in all schools. If we are not tackling mental health problems early, then we risk failing the next generation right at the start of their lives."

Supporting the campaign, TV presenter Melinda Messenger said:  "As a parent of three children, I would feel 100 per cent safer in the knowledge that while they are at school their mental health was treated with the same importance as reading and writing. This is why I am backing the Mental Health Foundation's Make it Count campaign. 

"You put a lot of trust into sending your young people out into the world and under the care of others. School should be the one place where, if something comes up that they need to speak about, there should be someone they feel they can turn to."

Rebecca Harris is an Assistant Head and Sendco at Heathfield Infant and Wilnecote Junior Schools:  "Our staff have spent a long time researching and considering how to support our pupils' mental health and emotional wellbeing following an increase in anxiety, depression, self-harming and many other alarming symptoms in our children. 

"We created a new system that develops children's resilience and teaches skills in how to handle situations they may encounter. While we acknowledge we still have a long way to go, supporting the mental health of our pupils underpins everything. Schools must collaborate with mental health charities and professionals who can support them in developing our future adults. To that end, we need governmental policy that prioritises emotional wellbeing as a foundation to learning."

* Download Make it Count: policy briefing here

* The Mental Health Foundation https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/

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