The latest research shows that a considerable proportion of young people are seeing their school work suffer due to mental health issues. My mind News reports.
About the research
A new study shows that 96% of young people have reported that their mental health has affected their school work at some point. This figure comes from a survey carried out by the mental health charity Mind.
The charity has carried out an inquiry into secondary education and mental health which concluded that too many young people in secondary schools across England are being denied vital mental health support at school and by mental health services.
Commenting on the new research, David Stephenson, Senior Policy and Campaigns Officer at Mind, said,
“The prioritization of academic achievement cannot be at the expense of mental wellbeing. As a young person struggling with your mental health, learning and taking part in school life can be a significant challenge.
What you want is for someone to listen to you, try to understand what is happening and help you get the support you need. Our inquiry has found that this isn’t happening.”
As part of its Inquiry, Mind consulted with over 2,870 young people, parents and caregivers of young people affected by mental health problems, mental health professionals, and school staff across England.
The study’s key findings
The charity, through carrying out its research, found that –
- Almost seven in 10 young people reported being absent from school due to their mental health;
- Some young people said their mental health problems were treated as bad behavior rather than them being supported to address underlying issues; and
- Some reported being sent into isolation, physically restrained, or excluded from school for this reason.
Mind is urging a significant rethink of how schools respond to young people experiencing behavioral problems because of mental health problems and trauma.
Additional revelations from the study
The Inquiry also revealed that –
- 62% of young people received no support from school for their mental health;
- Nearly half of young people had been disciplined at school for behaviour that was related to their mental health. In the most severe cases, young people reported being physically restrained and put in isolation away from friends and peers;
- One in four school staff (25%) were aware of a student being excluded from school because of their mental health; and
- 17% of young men with mental health issues had been excluded (permanently or temporarily) compared to fewer than 7% of young women.
Mind also found that 70% of young people who experienced racism in school told us that their experience had impacted their mental health. The charity is calling for the introduction of legislation to require schools to report incidents of racism.
Additional funding required
Mind has joined forces with children and young people’s mental health charity YoungMinds on a campaign to #FundTheHubs – calling on the UK government to invest in support hubs, which provide easy-to-access, early support for young people aged 11-25 in their communities from a range of trained professionals.
David Stephenson added that many teachers feel overstretched and work incredibly hard with limited resources. He explained that Mind is not asking teachers to be mental health professionals. However, collectively, we should think again about how we address behaviour in schools s those with the greatest need receive help, not punishment.
He believes schools need more support to meet the needs of young people experiencing mental health problems and a radical rethink of discipline. Mind wants to see the banning of isolation as a disciplinary measure, as this can contribute to poor mental health.
“The UK government must also set out duties in legislation that require schools to report restrictive interventions. They must also take into consideration young people experiencing racism, which has gone unaddressed for too long.
Our inquiry heard how racism significantly impacts young people’s mental health, yet the UK government’s failure to require schools to report on racist incidents means the true scale of racism in schools remains unidentified and the full impact unknown.”
Stephen Buckley, head of information at the mental health charity, added that it is deeply concerned by the findings of this research – the fact that only 10% of young adults love themselves highlights the urgent need for support and resources to help this young generation navigate the complex challenges they face, he says.
In an age where young people face pressures from various sources, it comes as little surprise that one of the first things to suffer is school work when things become too much. However, with Mind spotlighting this critical issue and its campaign with YoungMinds, it hopes that change will happen.
With the UK facing an increasingly urgent situation regarding young people’s mental health, change cannot come soon enough.
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