Three out of five parents are worried about their child’s mental health at school, according to a new survey which warned that bullying, exams and homework are heaping stress on pupils.
More than half of parents surveyed by national charity Parentkind said they were concerned their school’s high expectations are putting too much pressure on their child.
Two in five children have experienced stress relating to homework and exams, and a third have suffered from anxiety and bullying, according to the survey of 1,500 parents in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Parentkind’s acting chief executive, Michelle Doyle Wildman, said the findings made for "grim reading”, and warned that the education system was “adding to the pressures on our children”.
“I hope today’s findings are a catalyst for educators and parents to work together to ensure our schools are a place where children are supported and equipped to cope, learn and thrive,” she said.
The research adds to concerns that support systems are failing the growing number of young people reporting mental health problems.
The government has pledged to spend £1.6 billion on improving childhood mental health services to provide treatment for tens of thousands more children and ensure a standard four-week waiting time in schools.
But recent budget cuts have forced many schools and public service providers to cut back their support, rather than expand it.
Research by the Education Policy Institute published on Sunday showed that referrals to child and adolescent mental health services have jumped by more than a quarter over the past five years.
But at least 55,800 (nearly one in four of them) were rejected last year, mostly because their conditions were not deemed serious enough to warrant specialist help. This included children who had self-harmed or been abused, the research found.
The Parentkind survey found that more than a third of parents were not satisfied with how the school offered support for bullying and 27 per cent wanted more help in looking after children with depression.
“These worrying findings reflect the mental health crisis affecting children and young people, which is playing out in classrooms across the country,” said Emma Thomas, chief executive of childhood mental health charity YoungMinds.
“While schools shouldn't be expected to do the job of specialist mental health services, they can play a huge role in building resilience in young people and creating a culture where wellbeing is a priority.”