A third of parents do not know who in their child's school is responsible for pupil wellbeing

Written by: Pete Henshaw | Published:
Image: Adobe Stock

A third of parents do not know who is in charge of mental health and wellbeing at their children’s school, research has shown.

Despite this, survey findings published to mark Children’s Mental Health Week reveal that 53 per cent of parents think their child’s school is “good” or “very good” at supporting their children’s mental health and wellbeing.

The research questioned the views of more than 1,000 parents with children aged between five and 18.

However, it also found that around half of the respondents felt school staff and leadership needed more training on how to support children’s mental health and wellbeing, while 33 per cent said that they did not know who in their child’s school is in charge of pupil wellbeing.

The research has been published by charity Place2Be, which runs Children’s Mental Health Week.

The findings also show the continuing impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on young people’ s mental health. Fifteen per cent of the parents said that their child’s mental health was “poor” or “very poor”, with 31 per cent adding that it was in a worse state than before the pandemic.

Half of the parents said the pandemic has made them more likely to encourage their child to have counselling if they need it.

Children’s Mental Health Week is an annual event and this year it has adopted the theme of “express yourself”, encouraging children, schools and families to use the arts to help boost mental health and wellbeing.

A range of free resources have been made available, all of which can be adapted for use in school, for home-schooling, online lessons or independent learning. A virtual assembly has also been released via Oak National Academy, while the week was kicked off with a video message from the Duchess of Cambridge, Place2Be’s Royal Patron.

Catherine Roche, chief executive of Place2Be, said: “This Children’s Mental Health Week, at a time when we really need to draw on our resilience and emotional wellbeing, we’re encouraging families and schools to have a conversation about mental health. Creativity and expressing ourselves and our individuality creatively can be a great way to do this. We all have mental health and we need to nurture it, particularly during these challenging times.”

Commenting on the survey findings, Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said: “Schools play a vital role in promoting good mental health and emotional wellbeing among pupils of all ages. All school staff should receive high-quality training to do this and to ensure that they are well placed to identify emerging mental health needs of pupils and can support and manage pupils with mental health needs in the school environment.

“But teachers and leaders are not mental health specialists. Some pupils need additional, more targeted support from specialist services. Unfortunately, these services were stretched even before the pandemic, having been as starved of funding as education over the last decade.

“Schools cannot be the only place parents are able to turn for help with their children’s mental health. All the resources and services that should be there to help need to be operating efficiently and effectively together. We would urge the government to invest in children’s mental health now, or risk failing young people just as they most need help.”


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