Changing attitudes? A mental health dilemma for schools

Mental health visibility and recognition are improving, as is our willingness to talk about our wellbeing. But amid a student mental health crisis, there is more to do – and like it or not schools have a key role to play, says Al Kingsley

Here is the dilemma: societies worldwide seem to expect education systems to fix their ills but the complex way we live today is a major contributor to the current mental health crisis (Newlove-Delgado et al, 2022) among our young people. It is a catch-22.

From primary school right through to university, attendance figures are faltering, with large numbers persistently absent due to anxiety and mental health issues. Indeed, the children’s commissioner warned last year that in 2019 one in nine students were persistently absent (missing 10% of sessions) compared to almost one in four in autumn 2021 (Children’s Commissioner, 2022).

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