School staff witness an increase in pupil anxiety, low self-esteem and depression
The vast majority of staff working in UK schools (95%) have witnessed increased levels of pupil anxiety since the start of the school year, according to new research published by Place2Be and NAHT ahead of Children’s Mental Health Week.
A new poll of educational professionals, released today by Place2Be and NAHT, reveals the impact of the pandemic is still being felt in schools.
1,130 school leaders, teachers and other staff working in primary and secondary schools completed the poll. Those surveyed have seen an increased prevalence of other mental health issues among pupils this school year, including:
- 86% noted an increase in low self-esteem
- 76% said they’d seen an increase in depression
- 68% witnessed an increase in sustained feelings of anger
For staff working in secondary schools, 72% have noticed an increase in self-harm, 61% in suicidal thoughts, and 56% in eating difficulties among pupils.
Unfortunately, only 23% of staff said they had regularly been able to access specialist support for pupils with mental health needs, leaving a majority of children and young people struggling without access to the support they need.
School staff also highlighted the wider impact on many aspects of school life. A large majority said it has negatively affected:
- pupils’ ability to engage in learning (91%)
- pupils’ behaviour (87%)
- pupils’ progress (86%)
- staff workload and capacity (91%)
- staff wellbeing (89%)
Catherine Roche, Chief Executive of Place2Be, said:
Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said:
“It’s crucial that when school staff identify a mental health need with a pupil they are able to get the specialist help that is required. But as our survey shows, very few school staff find they are able to access specialist support for pupils who need it in a timely way – and this is having a negative impact on pupils’ ability to engage in learning, as well as on school life and staffs’ own wellbeing.
“These shocking new stats should add real urgency to the call for additional resources to support the mental health and wellbeing of pupils. The government must ensure that every school has fully funded mental health support available for their pupils and it is essential that they increase the capacity of social care, health and other services to meet the growing demand and to reduce waiting times.”
This year’s Children’s Mental Health Week is supported by players of the People’s Postcode Lottery and The Beaverbrook Foundation.