Majority of students ‘uncomfortable asking teachers for mental health support’

The majority of students would not feel comfortable approaching teachers for mental health support, new figures suggest.

Research from mental health charity Mind indicates that 38% of all pupils would not know where to access help at school.

Fifty-two per cent of 11- to 19-year-olds said they did not feel confident asking school staff if they needed support.

In a survey of 12,244 students, one in seven of the respondents say their mental health is currently poor, or very poor.

Almost three in five young people (59%) have either experienced a mental health problem themselves, or are close to someone who has.

Around one fifth of young people (21%) had accessed support for their mental health within school.

Of these, 43% said they did not find the support helpful and 63% were not involved in the decisions made about support.

When it came to receiving help outside the school gates, less than one in three pupils (28%) who had experienced a mental health problem had used mental health services.

Louise Clarkson, head of children and young people at Mind, said: “There were some really positive findings, with most pupils saying that, on the whole, they thought their schools believed good mental health was important and promoted wellbeing.

“But we also heard from many young people experiencing problems with their mental health.

“Despite the high levels of poor mental health among young people, many are not accessing support and those that are aren’t always getting what they need.

“It’s not schools at fault – we know they are under increasing pressure to provide wellbeing support for pupils at a time of rising demand and gaps in NHS mental health services.

“We know that many are doing the best job they can with limited resources and staff need the right expertise and support from other parts of the system.”

She added that while the Prime Minister’s recent announcement about training for teachers was welcome, school staff need to know that if they are starting conversations about mental health with a young person, there are services in place to refer them on to.

The surveys were carried out as part of a pilot project in 17 secondary schools in England and Wales.

Funded by The BRIT Trust and WHSmith, Mind has been working with secondary schools since September to pilot a new approach to improving the mental health of the whole school community, including pupils, all school staff and parents.

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