Teachers Association Suggests Psychiatric Problems Set to Rise

Untreated mental health issues in children could have catastrophic consequences in the absence of more acton in the education system, according to a major teachers union.

The National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) cites the fact that one-fifth of children experience mental health difficulties before age 11, and there are concerns that this could result in a psychiatric maelstrom in later life.

A snapshot survey of 1,455 English heads suggests two-thirds of primary schools cannot deal with the existing mental health issues among children.

In response to the issue, the government pointed out that it has already set aside £1.4 billion to address the mental health of children.

Commenting on the issue, Russell Hobby, general secretary of the heads’ union, NAHT, outlined his concerns about the mental health problems children face.

“We know the government is determined to improve children’s mental health but there’s still a danger that some children will take untreated mental problems into adulthood. Although increasingly common inside secondary schools, almost two-thirds of primary school leaders say that it is difficult to access local mental health professionals.”

Hobby went on to muse that over 75% of school leaders had already reported that they lack requisite resources for mental health support.

“Schools play a vital role in supporting children’s mental health and building their resilience – but rising demand, growing complexity and tight budgets can get in the way of helping the children who need it most,” Hobby asserted.

The chief executive of the mental health charity Place2Be, Catherine Roche, believes that children face numerous different mental health challenges, and that schools are already working hard to attempt to address these.

“Teachers are not counsellors, and sometimes schools need professional support to make sure that problems in childhood do not spiral into bigger mental health problems later in life.”

Both Place2Be and NAHT are of the belief that all schools should have direct access to professional mental health services.

Yet a survey conducted by the union revealed that 64% of schools do not have access to a counsellor on site, and three-quarters of these said the most common barrier was financial.

Responding to the issue, the Department for Education was keen to outline its commitment to the issue.

“We’re at a turning point in how we tackle children’s mental health issues and are determined to get it right. That’s why we’re investing £1.4bn over this Parliament to transform mental health support for children and young people, and have also given £1.5m over the last three years to projects involving Place2Be.”

More than half of all adults with mental health problems were diagnosed in childhood. Less than half were treated appropriately at the time.


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