Two in five pupils unsure how to get mental health help

ASCL says a 'greater sense of urgency is required' from the government to provide better mental health support for young people

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Almost two in five (38 per cent) of all pupils said they wouldn’t know where to go to access mental health support within school, according to data revealed by mental health charity Mind.

Half of the young people surveyed (52 per cent) said they wouldn’t feel confident approaching teachers or other school staff if they needed help.

In total, three in five young people (59 per cent) said they had either experienced a mental health problem themselves or are close to someone who has.

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The charity, which provides advice and support to anyone experiencing mental health problems, conducted a survey of 12,000 young people, aged 11-19, which highlighted that one in seven young people have said their mental health is currently ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’.

Around one in five young people (21 per cent) had accessed support for their mental health within school. Of these, almost one in two (43 per cent) said they didn’t find the support helpful and two in three (63 per cent) said they weren’t involved in decisions made about that support.

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.”

Salma Sanchez, a 15-year-old pupil at Ribblesdale School in Lancashire, said that teenagers undergo various stresses that can affect their wellbeing including, exams, home life and the pressures of social media.

She said: “There is lots that teenagers, like me, can do to improve their wellbeing. At my school, we recently held a ‘De-Stresstival’. Throughout the day, we had obstacle courses, glitter paint, a place where you could relax and talk to someone and – one of the favourite – we had dogs brought in to play with.

“It’s so important that any young person with a mental health problem knows where they can get support – whether that’s from a parent, doctor, school, or a service like a local Mind [charity]. Seeking help can mean you can start to recover and enjoy life again”, she added.

Anna Cole, parliamentary and inclusion specialist at the Association of School and College Leaders, said:  “Schools and colleges are doing their very best to provide mental health support for students in an extremely difficult financial climate caused by real-terms cuts to government spending on education.

“The government is aware of the need to provide better mental health support for young people and published a Green Paper over a year ago. But it is moving on this issue at a snail’s pace when it is clear that a much greater sense of urgency is required", she added.

Mind’s survey was conducted between October and November 2018, as part of a pilot project launched in 17 secondary schools across England and Wales. The project aims to instigate a new approach to improving the mental health of all members of the school community including pupils, staff and parents.

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