Recent statistics put as many as 1 in 10 young people struggling from a clinically diagnosable mental health difficulty. This equates to roughly three children in every classroom who are struggling to deal with the pressures of daily life.
Unlike mental health professionals, teachers rarely receive specialised mental health training. Yet, they are expected to not only understand and identify children who are struggling but also manage them effectively whilst still attending to the other twenty-seven children in the classroom.
In many areas throughout the UK, CAMHS are so backed up that to this day services are still reporting wait-lists of up to 18* months. While, it is true that many services are struggling to cope due to the sharp increase in the numbers of children and young people needing support and the reductions in finances, this does little to assuage the difficulties of those in need.
For those who are lucky enough to make it on to the waiting list, things do not necessarily improve. While waiting to be seen children and families are left to fend for themselves,and teachers try to support those who are struggling the best they can.
The situation has become so dire that on the 9th January of this year the Prime Minister; Theresa May, announced that the Government would be providing financial support to schools to address this issue.
Yet, it is not just about the money.
In an area such as this, it is important that the providers of such services have the required skills, knowledge to deliver effective mental health support to children and young people. Clear guidelines should be in place to ensure that services which do not have the expertise, to deliver front-line mental health support should not be relied upon to deliver training and advice to teachers.
Woodland Psychological Services Ltd, an independent mental health service, and training provider in Telford, Shropshire has been championing teacher mental health training for the past 12 months. Managing director Katie Woodland said "Whilst working with parents and carers it became apparent that many opportunities had been missed by school staff to identify and manage pupils who were struggling. While, it was clear this was due to a lack of training and not a lack of compassion, the end result is still the same.
The longer children wait to be seen and supported, the further behind they fall, both academically and developmentally. Psychological research has long shown early intervention and preventative initiatives to be the most effective method to reducing mental health difficulties in young people. But, due to the current crisis in young peoples mental health care, many who could have been effectively supported by low level interventions, are left and in the end develop more com
In order to counteract this growing problem, I developed a unique teacher mental health training course which specifically shows teachers how to understand, identify, and manage, the five most common childhood mental health difficulties within the classroom, and as part of their every day classroom management strategies."
Back in May 2016, the training day was piloted in a local school which has high levels of socioeconomic deprivation and mental health difficulties.
"The reducing the effects of mental health difficulties course delivered by Katie was a fantastic opportunity and we all felt that we came away learning something new. The course was crammed full of elements that every member within a school environment would benefit from... we learnt not only about the disorders and symptoms that we may face within a school but also methods and techniques to support and encourage a student.
From the power point to the booklet Katie had every basis covered and we came away with so many more ideas to be able to identify, adapt and implement...
This course would be beneficial and we would recommend it to anyone working within education or even working with children."
Tara O'Reilly, Hadley Learning Community May 2016
If you are open to learning more about how you can support the pupils in your school who are struggling from diagnosed or undiagnosed mental health difficulties please contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org.
*This is true of the service in Telford and Shropshire.
Mental Health Foundation: https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/a-to-z/c/children-and-young-people
Woodland Psychological Services Ltd is an independent mental health service which educates and empowers individuals, businesses leaders, and school teachers to remove mental health as a barrier to success.
Woodland Psychological Services Ltd delivers holistic therapy to individuals, stress and mental health management training to business leaders and child mental health management to teachers.
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