Mental health: Two in five pupils unsure how to get help at school

Last updated at 05:49
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Many young people have experienced mental health problems, but not everyone knows where to go for support

Two in five students don't know where to get mental health support at school, according to new research.

Mental health charity Mind carried out a survey of over 12,000 young people between the ages of 11 and 19 which revealed the results.

The research also shows that three in five young people have either dealt with a mental health problem themselves, or are close to someone who has experienced one.

The findings suggest that young people are dealing with many challenges which can have a negative impact on their wellbeing.

Fifteen-year-old Salma agrees, saying "There are many stressful parts of being a teenager today. So much can affect our wellbeing: exams, home life, cyberbullying, and the pressures of social media are just a few examples."

"I've found that not many people want to talk about mental health, and this needs to change."

How are schools tackling mental health?
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The survey highlights how secondary schools across the UK are supporting students experiencing mental health problems.

Although the results reveal that many students do feel their schools are addressing the importance of good mental health and wellbeing, they also suggest that not enough is being done.

Thirty-eight per cent of the students who took part in the survey said they wouldn't know where to go if they were looking to get support at school and more than half wouldn't feel comfortable talking to a member of staff if they needed support.

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Exams can be a very stressful time for many school students

Around one in five of the young people involved in the research have received mental health support at school, yet almost half of them said that they didn't find this helpful. Also, two in three of these students said they weren't involved in the decisions made about the support they'd received.

Louise Clarkson, Head of Children and Young People at Mind, said: "We know that many [schools] are doing the best job they can with limited resources and staff need the right expertise and support from other parts of the system."

What's the government's approach?
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Theresa May called for teachers to receive training on mental health

Last month, Prime Minister Theresa May announced plans for all new teachers to get training to spot the early warning signs of mental health problems.

This has been welcomed by Mind. However, Louise Clarkson thinks school staff need to know what specific services to refer students to if they are experiencing mental health problems.

She also feels young people should have their say on how mental health services are run. "We need to listen to what young people are telling us and be guided by them when designing services and support," she said.

What about services outside of schools?

The survey results showed that 28 per cent of students who had a mental health problem had used mental health services.

This has raised concerns as there appears to be a big gap between the number of young people who need support and those actually using services provided by the National Health Service (NHS).

What can students do to improve their wellbeing?
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In addition to the support students can get both inside and outside of school, there are also calls for young people to take their mental health into their own hands.

"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," says Salma.

"Seeking help can mean you can start to recover, and enjoy life again."

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Young people can speak to parents, teachers or charities for mental health support

Pupils at South Hunsley School in Yorkshire have been appointed as wellbeing champions to promote positive mental health.

This aims to make students feel that they can discuss issues surrounding mental health more openly.

Assistant head teacher Chris Major said: "It's so important that whole schools work together: students, staff and parents all contributing to achieve a sustained improvement."

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There are lots of charities that provide support to young people with mental health worries, including the NSPCC, YoungMinds and the Children's Society.

If you are upset by this news, make sure you talk about how you are feeling with friends or a trusted adult.

If you are struggling and there is no one you feel you can talk to about it, you can call Childline for free on 0800 11 11. This number does not show up on your phone bill.

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