10% increase in children struggling with exam stress

Childline has reported a 10% increase in counselling sessions about exam stress since the Covid-19 pandemic in the UK.

2000 children contacted childline with worries about exam stressThe confidential charity helpline for children said that almost 2,000 children contacted them to talk about exam stress last year as formal exams returned following the disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and resulting lockdowns in 2020 and 2021.

Childline said that the impact of the pandemic, coupled with pressures from schools and families, was increasing exam stress among children and young people.

They have advised children and parents to ensure they are undertaking non-revision activities to support their mental health and wellbeing during this stressful time.

Pandemic has increased exam stress

Exam stress has increased following covid-19 disruptionAlmost half (44%) of the counselling sessions delivered regarding exam stress took place in April, May and June last year ahead of the GCSE and A Level examination periods.

Some students were worried about the disruptions they had suffered to their learning during the pandemic and how this has impacted their performance, and their ability to cope with exam stress. Lots of children were also struggling with their mental health, family expectations and a lack of motivation.

Childline is concerned that the trend will continue this year and are urging children not to suffer in silence.

The free helpline is available 24/7 on 0800 1111. Children and young people can also contact Childline through their website, online message boards and 1-2-1 chats at childline.org.uk.

Childline provides a range of advice and guidance about dealing with exam stress. This includes:

  • Talk to someone about how you’re feeling – this could be a friend, relative or a trained counsellor. Talking can help you to feel more in control or can help someone else to realise that they might be putting too much pressure on you.
  • Take regular break from revision. This can help your concentration and make you feel better able to cope. Plan your breaks, aiming to schedule 20-minute breaks each hour to do something fun, get outside or have a snack.
  • Maintain healthy habits while revising. This includes eating healthily, exercising, getting plenty of sleep and doing things that you enjoy. This can help to boost your overall health and wellbeing and make you better able to cope with any stress.
  • Practice positive thinking and try not to compete or compare yourself with other people.

Exam stress can impact mental health

The Director of Childline, Shaun Friel, said exams have always proved “stressful” for children but explained that, “for this current generation, the extra disruption can have a really negative impact.”

He continued:

“While some nervousness around exams is normal its worrying to hear from students that stress is impacting their mental health and contributing to negative thoughts and actions.

“Talking about worries is incredibly helpful and so Childline is available for every young person whenever they need it.

“We all have a role to support young people in this situation and as parents and carers we can make sure we are not putting too much pressure on children, encourage them to think positively and reassure them that, while exams are important, there are always options whatever the outcome.”

Training for those working with children and young people

Children feel exam stress as a result of family pressures as wellFirst Response Training (FRT) is a leading national training provider delivering courses in subjects such as health and safetyfirst aidfire safetymanual handlingfood safetymental healthhealth and social caresafeguarding and more.

They work with a large number of early years and childcare providers, as well as schools, colleges, and children’s services.

Their courses include Understanding Mental Health, Youth Mental Health First Aid, Anxiety Awareness, Self-Harm Awareness and Suicide Awareness.

A trainer from FRT says:

“Exams can be a tricky time for children and young people, especially after the last couple of years where they might have missed some periods of school and maybe not undergone exams for a number of years.

“It’s important that anyone working with children and young people is aware of the pressures that they are under and is able to identify warning signs of mental health problems, such as anxiety and depression, that may arise from or be exacerbated by exam stress. Being able to offer appropriate early help and support is crucial.”

For more information on the training that FRT can provide, please call them today on freephone 0800 310 2300 or send an e-mail to info@firstresponsetraining.com.

Charity wants to get children’s mental health #OutInTheOpen

National charity YoungMinds is encouraging people to bring children’s mental health out into the open with a new step challenge for Spring.

YoungMinds #OutInTheOpen challenge aims to get people talking about mental health for children and young peopleThe charity’s #OutInTheOpen campaign challenges people to walk 310,000 steps in 31 days during May to raise money for children and young people’s mental health, and encourage open and honest conversations about mental health.

On their website, YoungMinds explains that it “takes courage to ask for help. But for many young people who do, the support they need just isn’t there.”

They are promoting the #OutInTheOpen challenge to raise vital funds to ensure that all children and young people get the mental health support they need, when they need it.

Mental health steps challenge accessible for all

Children and young people may be helped by the #OutInTheOpen steps challengeParticipants can sign up through Facebook or JustGiving and will receive a free YoungMinds t-shirt to wear as they complete the steps challenge. The charity is inviting people to join their Facebook community and meet other fundraisers as they complete their 310,000 steps and bring conversations about children’s mental health out into the open.

There is no registration deadline to take part in the #OutInTheOpen challenge, but it officially starts on 1st May 2023.

It is free to anyone who wants to sign up, but participants are encouraged to try and fundraise or to personally donate to YoungMinds.

YoungMinds advises that the 310,000 steps should be completed however is best for each individual’s physical ability, and that the step count can be spread across all 31 days in May, or completed over just two weeks, depending on your preferences and fitness levels. The charity encourages everyone to adapt the challenge to suit their own needs and goals, and welcomes people completing similar distances in wheelchairs or using mobility scooters, for example.

Participants in the #OutInTheOpen challenge can download a free step tracker and sponsor form from the YoungMinds website.

Supporting children and young people’s mental health

Five children in every classroom have mental health problemsYoungMinds is the UK’s leading charity supporting children and young people’s mental health. Their aim is to prevent children’s mental health reaching crisis point, and to ensure that they have services available to them when they speak out for help.

It is estimated that five children in every classroom in the UK has a mental health problem. YoungMinds says that a quarter of 17-year-old girls has self-harmed in the last year and that suicide remains the single biggest killer of boys and men.

Their mission is to ensure that no young person feels alone with their mental health, and they provide tools and advice to help children and young people support their mental health and wellbeing.

Stress awareness for children and young people

To mark Stress Awareness Month this April, they have provided tips, information and advice to help children and young people manage stress.

This includes the emotional and physical signs and symptoms of stress, such as:

  • Feeling irritable or impatient, overwhelmed, anxious, worried or depressed
  • Having trouble sleeping or feeling tired
  • Experiencing muscles aches, headaches or tension
  • Having difficulty breathing
  • Changes in weight
  • Changes to your menstrual cycle

YoungMinds also provides tips about helping to feel calm, a guide to self-care and advice about how to manage a stressful workload, whether its exam stress, university worries or coping with paid work.

The charity also provides more tips and advice on its social medial channels and you can also subscribe to their website for news and updates, including real-life stories.

Training to support children’s mental health

The charity challenge will help children and young people with mental health problemsFirst Response Training (FRT) is a leading national training provider delivering courses in subjects such as health and safetyfirst aidfire safetymanual handlingfood safetymental healthhealth and social caresafeguarding and more.

They work with a large number of early years and childcare providers, as well as schools, colleges, and children’s services.

Their courses include Understanding Mental Health, Youth Mental Health First Aid, Anxiety Awareness, Self-Harm Awareness and Suicide Awareness.

A trainer from FRT says:

“Many children across the UK are really struggling with their mental health, and they need advice, support and treatment as soon as possible. YoungMinds does great work and it’s really great to see a campaign like this, that everyone get involved in and which puts the spotlight on the mental health and wellbeing of children and young people.

“It’s vitally important that we keep talking openly about mental health and that we take the time to have conversations with children to support their wellbeing and check in with them.

“It’s also really important for anyone who works closely with children and young people to have a good understanding of mental health and be able to spot the signs that someone may be struggling. They should also feel confident to offer appropriate early help and support. Focused training can help with this.”

For more information on the training that FRT can provide, please call them today on freephone 0800 310 2300 or send an e-mail to info@firstresponsetraining.com.

NSPCC campaign tackles ‘heart-breaking’ loneliness

The NSPCC has launched a new campaign to tackle the “heart-breaking” loneliness experienced by children and young people across the country.

New NSPCC campaign aims to tackle loneliness among children and young peopleThe ‘Day in the Lonely’ campaign uses day-in-the-life style videos to illustrate how three young people experience loneliness.

The videos, based on real-life calls received by Childline, are designed to encourage children to share their feelings of loneliness, and to reassure them that these feelings don’t need to last.

Childline conducts 15 loneliness counselling sessions each day

Loneliness among children peaked during the pandemic but remains highThe campaign comes in the wake of new Childline data which reveals that the free, confidential helpline is contacted an average of 15 times each day by children struggling with loneliness.

Childline delivered a total of 5,564 counselling sessions on loneliness between April 2021 and March 2022.

Counselling sessions on the issue of loneliness predictably peaked at more than 6000 during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic in the UK. Numbers have since fallen slightly but remain high.

Children who contact Childline are often experiencing loneliness because they’ve been left out of friendship groups and social media chats. Others struggle with the issue because they feel negatively about themselves or believe that their family or friends don’t understand them.

Loneliness can lead to mental health issues

The campaign videos include information on how Childline can support children and young people, including through email and message boards.

It is hoped they will prompt young people to open up about their mental health issues early on, to prevent them escalating to crisis point. Poor mental health has remained a top concern for children contacting the helpline for the past 6 years.

The Director of Childline, Shaun Friel, explains:

“Loneliness is sadly an issue that a high number of children and young people are experiencing.

“At Childline, we know the impact this can have on a child’s wellbeing and mental health.

“We’ve had cases of children left feeling depressed. That’s why we are reminding all children that talking to a trusted adult like a parent, teacher or Childline counsellor about being lonely is a brave thing to do. It will enable them to get the help they need.

“Through this campaign, we want to raise awareness among children and adults, that there are many reasons why young people might feel lonely, but these feelings don’t have to last.

“Getting support early on can prevent things from escalating in the future.”

The Day in the Lonely campaign is supported by supermarket retailer Lidl GB, which has been raising funds for Childline since 2020.

Lidl GB’s Senior CSR Manager, Mark Newbold, says: “It’s heart-breaking to see young people struggle with loneliness, and that is why at Lidl we are proud to have funded the NSPCC’s Day in the Lonely campaign.

“We are committed to raising funds that mean more youngsters in need of emotional support can get the help they require as fast as possible.”

Coping with loneliness

Childline provides tips for coping with lonelinessThe Day in the Lonely campaign page also provides tips for young people who need support but are struggling to talk about their experiences. It also provides top tips for making friends and everyday steps that children and young people can take to cope with loneliness. These include:

  • Doing something everyday that makes you feel positive, whether that’s listening to music, getting active, speaking to someone you care about or tidying something up. Even doing something simple and small each day can help to lift your mood and improve your ability to cope.
  • Taking care of yourself by getting enough sleep, following a daily routine, eating healthily, being physically active and making time to relax. Maintaining a healthy daily routine can help make things easier to cope with.
  • Get help to make friends and take the time and effort to build relationships. Many people may find it difficult to make friends, so follow help and advice and try making the first step, engaging in conversation, being yourself, joining clubs and societies and remember to be patient and take your time.
  • Seek support from someone you trust with things in your life you’re struggling with. This could be a relative, teacher, friend, your doctor or any adult you feel safe with.

For more help and advice, visit the Day in the Lonely webpage or contact Childline for free on 0800 1111.

Supporting children and young people

Young people are urged to talk to someone about loneliness and mental health struggles early onFirst Response Training (FRT) is a leading national training provider delivering courses in subjects such as health and safetyfirst aidfire safetymanual handlingfood safetymental healthhealth and social caresafeguarding and more.

They work with a large number of early years and childcare providers, as well as schools, colleges, and children’s services.

Their courses include Understanding Mental Health, Youth Mental Health First Aid, Anxiety Awareness, Self-Harm Awareness and Suicide Awareness.

A trainer from FRT says:

“We know that many children faced isolation and loneliness during the pandemic, and this has continued for many, with lots of children and young people also experiencing social and general anxiety, as well as depression in many cases.

“It’s vitally important that we keep talking openly about mental health and that we take the time to make meaningful connections, and have conversations, with children to support their wellbeing and check in with them about how they’re feeling.

“It’s also really important for anyone who works closely with children and young people to have a good understanding of mental health and be able to spot the signs that someone may be struggling. They should also feel confident to offer appropriate early help and support. Focused training can help with this.”

For more information on the training that FRT can provide, please call them today on freephone 0800 310 2300 or send an e-mail to info@firstresponsetraining.com.

Let’s Connect for Children’s Mental Health Week

This week (6th-12th February 2023) is Children’s Mental Health Week and the theme for this year is Let’s Connect, as data suggests more than two-thirds of children experiencing mental health problems feel socially anxious.

Children's Mental Health Week encourages connections and communication

The annual awareness week is run by children’s mental health charity, Place2Be, and was first launched in 2015 to help highlight the importance of children’s mental health and wellbeing.

The charity provides a range of free resources for schools, youth groups and families, such as activity ideas, assembly guides, videos and top tips, to help primary and secondary-aged children and adults explore the topics of mental health and wellbeing.

In line with this year’s theme, suggested activities will help children, young people and adults to consider how we can make meaningful connections that support and protect our mental health.

A lack of connections impacts children’s mental health

Meaningful connections are important for children's mental health

An absence of rewarding and meaningful social connections can lead to people feeling isolated and lonely, which can in turn have a negative impact on our mental health and wellbeing.

With 1 in 6 children living with a diagnosable mental health condition in England, Place2Be wants to encourage people to connect with family, friends and others in healthy, rewarding and meaningful ways during Children’s Mental Health and Week – and beyond.

They say: “People thrive in communities, and this connection is vital for our wellbeing.”

Princess of Wales supports Children’s Mental Health Week

Her Royal Highness Catherine, Princess of Wales, is the Royal Patron of Place2Be and has supported Children’s Mental Health Week since its inception 9 years ago.

To mark Children’s Mental Health Week 2023, she met with primary school children in East London to discuss the importance of making connections and supporting children’s mental health. The Princess encouraged the pupils of St John’s CE Primary School in Bethnal Green to keep talking openly about their feelings, and to continue to check in with one another regarding their emotional wellbeing.

Children’s Mental Health Week comes just as Her Royal Highness has launched her awareness campaign, Shaping Us, which aims to increase public understanding of the crucial importance of the first five years of a child’s life.

Many children feel ‘socially anxious’

New dataSocial connections are vital for children's mental health and wellbeing released by Place2Be shows that almost 78% of the young people supported by the charity last year felt socially anxious and that nearly two-thirds (65%) had difficulties interacting with their classmates.

However, the data also reveals that, with support, two-thirds (76%) of those experiencing severe difficulties saw an improvement in their mental health and wellbeing.

These latest findings follow the Covid-19 pandemic and resulting lockdowns, which led many children and young people to miss out on classroom connections and become isolated from their friends. Teachers have since asked for support in helping young people across the country to improve their social interactions and confidence.

Place2Be notes that a lack of meaningful connections is a key driver in loneliness and anxiety, which makes it vitally important that children and young people can form supportive friendships.

Catherine Roche, CEO of Place2Be, explains:

“In one-to-one sessions with our counsellors, children are telling us how difficult they find it to form and maintain friendships. Forming positive relationships is fundamental to our mental wellbeing and this has been significantly disrupted in recent years.

“While the statistics around children’s mental health are stark, I am optimistic. Through targeted interventions across the school, we can help children and young people become confident, resilient and able to cope with life’s challenges.

“Disconnection and loneliness should not be a part of school life.”

Reach out to tackle mental health crisis

The charity hopes that Children’s Mental Health Week will help to highlight the importance of early intervention in preventing the most serious mental health problems.

Roche adds:

“We hope this week that everyone, whether a child or adult, in school, at home or on the bus, has at least one meaningful conversation with someone. Reach out! We need to embed a culture of destigmatizing our mental health to create a brighter future for our young people.”

Place2Be want people to connect and keep talking about children's mental health

Place2Be have also launched a short film series created by BAFTA for Children’s Mental Health Week 2023, where BAFTA’s Young Presenters, aged between 12 and 17, met with film, TV and radio stars to reflect on the different ways in which they connect with others.

In addition, Place2Be Ambassador, podcaster and journalist, Josh Smith, spoke with secondary school pupils about the different ways in which they connect, and how connections can impact their mental health and wellbeing. The video can be viewed on Place2Be’s website.

Place2Be also offers a social media guide and resources, toolkits for schools, posters, flyers and fundraising packs to help people spread the word, increase awareness and raise funds for children’s mental health.

Mental health training and support for those working with children

Early intervention is important for children's mental health

First Response Training (FRT) is a leading national training provider delivering courses in subjects such as health and safetyfirst aidfire safetymanual handlingfood safetymental healthhealth and social caresafeguarding and more.

They work with a large number of early years and childcare providers, as well as schools, colleges, and children’s services.

Their courses include Understanding Mental Health, Youth Mental Health First Aid, Anxiety Awareness, Self-Harm Awareness and Suicide Awareness.

A trainer from FRT says:

“Many children faced isolation, loneliness and academic upheaval during and since the pandemic, and this has led many to experience social and general anxiety, as well as depression in many cases.

“It’s vitally important that we keep talking openly about mental health and that we take the time to make meaningful connections, and have conversations, with children to support their wellbeing and check in with them.

“It’s also really important for anyone who works closely with children and young people to have a good understanding of mental health and be able to spot the signs that someone may be struggling. They should also feel confident to offer appropriate early help and support. Focused training can help with this.”

For more information on the training that FRT can provide, please call them today on freephone 0800 310 2300 or send an e-mail to info@firstresponsetraining.com.

Childline supports young people with sexuality and gender identity

During Pride Month, Childline has voiced its support for children and young people struggling with their gender identity or sexuality.

The national charity helpline says that, over the past year, it has seen a 29% increase in the number of young people contacting them to talk about concerns relating to coming out.

The helpline says that the challenging year faced by all of us has seen many young people cut off from their usual support networks and has also resulted in others feeling worried about returning to school.

Concerns from young people

Between April 2020 and March of this year, the helpline conducted a total of 5,046 counselling sessions with young people about gender identity and sexuality.

Young people contact childline over concerns about their sexualityIn over half of these (2,638), the young person cited coming out as a concern, with some also revealing that they worried about the reaction they would receive from other people.

Many young people (1,467) speaking about their gender identity and sexuality also cited their mental and emotional health as an additional concern, and other related concerns included family relationships, school, friendship issues and self-harm.

For some, lockdown had exacerbated these concerns while, for others, it had provided time for reflection or an opportunity to come out to friends and family.

All children should be listened to

The Service Head of Childline, Alex Gray, explained:

“At Childline, we know that coming out or speaking about sexuality and gender identity can sometimes be really challenging

“Some children with sexuality and gender concerns revealed that lockdown had been particularly hard for them, as they’d been cut off from their usual support networks. Whereas others told Childline that lockdown had given them the confidence and freedom to come out to their friends and family. However, some worried they may have lost this confidence when returning to school.

“No matter what a young person’s experience is with coming out or speaking about their gender identity, at Childline we believe every young person has a right to be listened to and to be able to speak about any worries or questions they may have about their gender identity and sexuality without feeling judged.

“If a young person feels unable to speak to a trusted adult in their life, then we would encourage them to speak to Childline.”

Offering support

First Response Training (FRT) is a leading national training provider delivering courses in subjects such as health and safety, first aid, fire safety, manual handling, food hygiene, mental health, health and social care, safeguarding and more.

sexuality and gender identityThey work with a large number of early years and childcare providers, as well as schools, colleges, and children’s services. Their courses include Understanding Mental Health, Youth Mental Health First Aid and Self-Harm Awareness.

A trainer from FRT says: “If a young person is struggling with their sexuality or gender identity, or is worried about coming out, including how they may be treated and the impact it may have on their closest relationships, this can significantly impact their mental health and wellbeing.

“It’s important that anyone who works closely with children and young people has an understanding of mental health, is able to spot the signs that someone may be struggling and can offer appropriate support. Focused training can help with this.”

For more information on the training that FRT can provide, please call them today on freephone 0800 310 2300 or send an e-mail to info@firstresponsetraining.com.

Childline counsels 90,000 children during pandemic

The NSPCC’s confidential helpline, Childline, delivered nearly 90,000 counselling sessions for young people worried about mental health or abuse during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The national children’s charity said they had grown increasingly concerned about the “huge toll” the pandemic has had on young people.

Data from Childline for the period 1st April 2020 until 31st March 2021 reveals:

  • The service has conducted over 73,000 counselling sessions about mental or emotional health
  • 5,646 of those counselling sessions were held with children aged 11 or under, which represents an increase of almost a third (29%) from the previous year
  • The service also delivered 16,610 counselling sessions about abuse
  • Counselling sessions about emotional abuse increased by almost a fifth (18%) compared to the previous year

The charity also revealed that more children and young people have been accessing their Childline resources, information and tools online, showing they have been taking proactive steps to support their own emotional and mental wellbeing during this challenging time.

The NSPCC is now calling for the government to invest in a plan for children which is not limited to ensuring that they catch up on school work, and instead extends to providing mental health support in the classroom and the community.

They are also hosting ‘Childhood Day’ on 11th June where they’re encouraging people to celebrate childhood by organising a play event to raise money and help keep children safe.

Dame Esther Rantzen, the founder of Childline, said: “Throughout this pandemic, children and young people have had to deal with so many difficult new challenges, many knowing that their families were struggling with health worries and financial issues, some locked down in unsafe homes, deprived of their schools which may have been their only refuge. Many have told Childline that they have struggled to cope and their mental health has suffered as a result.

“Childline’s counsellors have been tremendously impressed by the resilience of so many young people during the pandemic, supporting themselves and each other. Nevertheless, we are all only too aware that not only education has suffered, but so has the opportunity to play. My grandchildren have told me how much they have missed their friends during lockdown. Play is such an important part of childhood, building confidence and creating relationships. After the year we’ve had, I am really looking forward to joining my own family on Childhood Day. I do hope as many families as possible will be able to do the same, to enjoy each other’s company and have fun and play together.

“I want to remind children everywhere that Childline is always there for them, no matter how big or small their problem, offering comfort and support which is free, confidential, on the phone or online.”

First Response Training (FRT) is a leading national training provider delivering courses in subjects such as health and safety, first aid, fire safety, manual handling, food hygiene, mental health, health and social care, safeguarding and more.

They work with a large number of early years and childcare providers, as well as schools, colleges, and children’s services. Their courses include Safeguarding Children.

A trainer from FRT says: “Children and young people have missed out on so much during the past year as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, while many vulnerable children have been in unsafe situations with little support or anyone able to notice and help.

“The pandemic has clearly taken a serious toll on youth mental health and it’s important that support for them is prioritised in our communities.”

For more information on the training that FRT can provide, please call them today on freephone 0800 310 2300 or send an e-mail to info@firstresponsetraining.com.

Childline raises concerns over mental health of children

Childline has raised concerns about the mental health of children and young people after delivering over 50,000 counselling sessions since the first peak of the coronavirus pandemic.

Training can help raise awareness of anxietyThe NSPCC’s confidential charity helpline delivered 54,926 counselling sessions to children and young people between April and December 2020.

This represents a 16% increase in the average number of mental health counselling sessions delivered to children aged 11 and under and a 10% increase in counselling sessions about loneliness across all age groups.

Childline has called for more volunteers to join the helpline and help to support children and young people as the pandemic continues.

It reports that children contacting its service frequently talked about experiencing loneliness, low mood and self-esteem, depression and anxiety, signifying the devastating impact the coronavirus pandemic and resulting lockdowns has had on the mental health of young people.

Some children spoke of feeling isolated or overwhelmed due to fears about family members contracting the virus, school closures or cancelled exams.

Others said they felt cut off from their support networks and were missing family and friends.

Dame Esther Rantzen, who founded the helpline and is its president, said it was “absolutely imperative” that Childline is available for children who need it.

She commented: “Many young people, especially those in unsafe homes, are feeling desperately anxious and depressed. School can be the only safe haven they know, and without that support they feel entirely alone. For them, Childline is literally a life-line.

“But the service urgently needs more volunteers to listen to and support children, and more funds to pay for their calls and online contacts, and for that we depend upon the generosity and compassion of the public. It is the NSPCC’s mission to make 2021 a better year for children, and with your help we can make this dream a reality.”

You can learn about ways to help Childline and the NSPCC on their website.

First Response Training (FRT) is a leading national training provider delivering courses in subjects such as health and safety, first aid, fire safety, manual handling, food hygiene, mental health, health and social care, safeguarding and more.

They work with a large number of early years and childcare providers, as well as schools, colleges, and children’s services. Their courses include Safeguarding Children, Understanding Mental Health and Anxiety Awareness.

They can also provide accredited trainers to deliver Youth Mental Health First Aid training, certificated by Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England.

A trainer from FRT says: “There are many hidden victims of the pandemic, and it is saddening that measures introduced to keep the nation safe and healthy may have contributed to children experiencing much higher levels of mental ill health.

“It’s so important that this issue is being discussed and that these children receive the help and support they need.

“Anyone who works with children and young people should complete appropriate mental health training so that they can spot the early warning signs of depression, anxiety and other mental health problems.”

For more information on the training that FRT can provide, please call them today on freephone 0800 310 2300 or send an e-mail to info@firstresponsetraining.com.

Calls to end school mental health support ‘lottery’

A new study has called for better mental health support in schools in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic and resulting lockdown.

Many schools lack mental health support servicesReleased just ahead of World Mental Health Day on Saturday 10th October, the study from the Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR) found that fewer than half of state schools in England offer on-site counselling for pupils, and that such services are less likely to be available in schools now than in 2010.

This is despite the fact that the number of young people struggling with mental health issues has risen sharply over the last ten years.

Schools in the most deprived areas were found to be most likely to be missing mental health support, with access to services remaining a “lottery” for many young people.

Those who work with children tend to agree that a further rise in youth mental ill health is now almost inevitable following the Covid-19 pandemic in the UK and the impact of national and local lockdowns.

The IPPR is therefore calling for a national entitlement to mental health support in schools.

On-site support critical

School based services are vital for pupilsThey surveyed nearly 7,000 teachers across both state and private schools and then weighted the results to reflect the national picture. They found that just 48% of respondents said their schools offered counselling on site.

Access to counselling services in school is critical because it reduces the amount of lesson time a pupil may miss if they have to travel to other sites for support. Staff are also better able to understand if a pupil is dealing with an ongoing issue.

Teachers, parents and headteachers also reported that they frequently found it a challenge to gain access to support services required for children.

‘Unprecedented upheaval’

The government has said it is investing in mental health and children’s wellbeing.

Labour MP for Hemsworth, John Trickett, has been campaigning with counselling organisations regarding the issue, however, and expressed anger at the lack of access.

He said:

“The fact that some schools in more deprived areas haven’t been able to offer counselling and other pastoral services isn’t surprising in this context, but it is wrong, unfair and should make people’s blood boil.

“This generation of school and college children have already experienced unprecedented upheaval in the last six months.”

The General Secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, Paul Whiteman, said that mental health support for young people was a “lottery.”

He explained that mental health teams were a vital factor in improving access to mental health support, but that progress to develop such teams had slowed.

He said:

“It has never been more important for young people to get the support they need, but it still appears that it is a lottery. The government urgently needs to step in to correct this.”

Inequalities in society

Waiting lists for NHS support can be very lengthy and young people frequently need to be severely impaired before they are approved for help.

Associate Director of the IPPR and lead author of the report, Harry Quilter Pinner, said the pandemic had highlighted inequalities in our society which posed a “profound risk” to children.

He explained:

“Many schools are unable to provide the support young people need to thrive.

“Without urgent government action to ensure every school can provide vital services such as counselling and after-school clubs, there is a profound risk that the legacy of the pandemic will be even bigger educational and health inequalities.

“The government has started to put in place some support for young people in the wake of the national lockdown. But it can and should go further – the pandemic should be seen as an opportunity to ‘build back better’.”

A spokesperson for the Department for Education said it had rolled out an £8 million training programme to enable schools to access the knowledge and resources required to support children and young people, as well as teachers and parents.

September saw the launch of the Wellbeing for Education Return programme. It aims to support staff working in schools and colleges to respond to the additional needs that some children and young people may have as a direct result of the pandemic. It includes help to deal with bereavement, stress, trauma or anxiety.

Trained to offer support

First Response Training (FRT) is a leading national training provider, delivering a wide and diverse range of courses to early years, childcare and schools, health and social care organisations and businesses in all other industries.

Their course portfolio includes training in key topics such as health and safety, first aid, fire safety, food hygiene, mental health, health and social care and other special focus areas.

They can provide externally accredited Youth Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training courses, delivered by approved MHFA trainers as well as additional courses in Understanding Mental Health, Anxiety Awareness, Bipolar Disorder Awareness and more.

A trainer from FRT says:

“Providing children and young people with early access to effective mental health support is vital, and could be game changing.

“Around 1 in 10 children and young people aged 5-16 years old have a clinically diagnosable mental health problem, but 70% of adolescents who experience mental health issues currently do not receive appropriate support early enough.

“Research shows that 50% of all mental health problems are actually established by the age of 14, and 75% by age 24, so the right support at an early stage could really improve the nation’s mental health overall.

“Raising awareness and understanding, and providing people with the skills to provide support through training is one key way in which we can ensure an early and effective response to mental health problems for all.”

For more information about the training that FRT can provide, please call them today on freephone 0800 310 2300 or e-mail info@firstresponsetraining.com.

Further facts about mental health can be found on the Mental Health Foundation’s website.