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School leaders concerned over children’s mental wellbeing


Young people’s mental health is worsening and there is a serious gap in specialist care outside of schools, according to a new survey.

More than half of school leaders say there has been a large increase in anxiety and stress among young people, according to the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) and the National Children’s Bureau. Over 40% of school leaders reported a big increase in the problem of cyber-bullying, while nearly 80% reported an increase in self-harm or suicidal thoughts among students.

Most schools offer on-site support to students, such as counselling and sessions with educational psychologists, even though a large proportion reported that there was limited funding for these services.

Nearly two-thirds (65%) of school leaders say they have had challenges in obtaining mental health care from local services in their area for students who need more specialist support, and 53%, who have made a referral to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services, rated their effectiveness as poor or very poor.

ASCL Interim General Secretary Malcolm Trobe said: “The fact is that children today face an extraordinary range of pressures. They live in a world of enormously high expectations, where new technologies present totally new challenges such as cyber-bullying. There has seldom been a time when specialist mental health care is so badly needed and yet it often appears to be the poor relation of the health service.

“Its importance cannot be over emphasised. Early intervention is essential before problems become entrenched and start to increase in severity. These services are a vital lifeline that many young people cannot do without.”

ASDAN provides a wide range of courses that improve young people’s wellbeing and empower them to take control of their learning.

Our recently updated PSHE Short Course, which is aimed mainly at ages 13-19, contains a module on wellbeing where learners can choose to undertake challenges such as conducting research into depression or investigating the impact of social media on mental wellbeing. In another challenge, learners can invite a health professional to give a talk on mental health and answer questions on the subject before producing a self-help guide for their peers.

In addition, ASDAN promotes mental wellbeing through our Personal and Social Development qualifications. These offer imaginative ways of supporting young people to become confident individuals who are physically, emotionally and socially healthy.