With constant access to social media and increased pressure academically, young people have arguably more stressful lives today than ever before. According to Sam Royston, director of policy and research at the children’s society, it has become ‘desperately worrying.’
Charity YoungMinds have reported that 82% of teachers ‘agreed that the focus on exams had become disproportionate to students’ wellbeing,’ and has called for pupils’ wellbeing to ‘be considered as important as academic achievement.’ The pressure of funding cuts, lack of access to resources and combined with constant exam pressure means it is difficult for schools to balance progress and wellbeing. Something ex-Mental Health Champion, Natasha Devon, highlighted in May 2016.
Devon criticised the education system, revealing that it was no coincidence that ‘anxiety is the fastest growing illness in under 21s’ with the ‘rigorous culture of testing.’ Her dismissal soon after led people to question the government’s commitment to tackling mental health.
Just this month, the Chief Executive of YoungMinds, announced the situation was ‘getting worse.’
Recent figures released by charities reveal the growing need for services to support young peoples’ wellbeing. More than 50,000 young people reached out to Childline for ‘serious mental health problems’ and 50,819 children received counselling from the NSPCC.
Parents, teachers and charities are all calling for improved provision in schools. Schools are arguably in the best position to spot early warning signs and step in. To do so effectively, YoungMinds have written to Prime Minister, Theresa May, asking for ‘proper funding of wellbeing initiatives, better recognition for schools that do good work…and specific health training for teachers.’
Sam Royston has also warned that ‘failing to address mental health problems early on can severely damage the lives of young people.’
There is a ‘crisis in our classrooms,’ and ‘we urgently need to rebalance our education system, so that schools are encouraged to prioritise well-being and not just exam results’ Sarah Brennan, Chief Executive of YoungMinds, argues.
How well do you feel your school is equipped to deal with the growing mental health crisis in students? Let us know:
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Jemma, is our Project Co-Ordinator here at Athona and also a qualified teacher. During Jemma’s teaching career, she held the responsibility of Teaching and Learning Leader for key stage 3 English and was a mentor to a number of trainee teachers. Jemma spends her time regularly writing topical and latest industry blog posts and is the main point of contact for our international candidates. More recently, Jemma has been coordinating the training we provide to our teachers and schools.
Athona is playing their part to support the funding of vital services, not just for young people, but for anyone experiencing a mental health problem. As professionals in the medical and education fields, Athona recognise the support charities like Mind provide every day. That’s why Brentwood Mind are one of Athona’s chosen charities of the year. Should you need someone to talk to, please visit www.mind.org.