YOUNG people with mental health problems are at severe risk of being left behind by the education system, the charity Mind has warned.
As teenagers head back to school in their thousands, the charity has issued a stark warning that young people struggling may be facing decades of poor mental health if schools aren’t given the tools to support them.
The charity has launched Educating Mental Health, an inquiry into how secondary schools are responding to pupils with mental health problems.
Young people aged 13-25, their teachers, parents and other school staff are being urged to share information with the inquiry, the first of its kind run by the charity. The inquiry is particularly keen to hear experiences of young people and their parents who have been excluded or asked to leave, school.
Poor mental health in youth is closely linked to mental health problems in adulthood, with 50 per cent of young adults with a mental health problem first diagnosed between the ages of 11-15.
Nearly one in five young people experiencing a mental health problem have dropped out of education due to stigma, and one in ten boys with a mental health problem have been excluded.
The charity has set five key tests for the government to meet in its response to the pandemic, with one being to protect children and young people with a mental health problem.
Vicki Nash, Head of Policy and Campaigns at Mind, said:
“The pandemic has already had a devastating impact on the lives of millions of children in England and Wales. It’s good that for many, a return to school may mark something of a return to normality.
“But sadly schools aren’t always able to support young people with mental health problems. In fact, sometimes they can even be part of the problem. All young people with a mental health problem deserve the care they need, but even well-meaning schools can often be poorly equipped to support pupils experiencing problems with their mental health.
“We want to help. Our inquiry will help us establish the key issues within the secondary education system for children with mental health problems. This isn’t about individual schools or teachers – it’s about the education system as a whole. That’s why we will be looking at the national picture, Government policy, and speaking to teachers and school leaders. Our nation’s children are experiencing a once-in-a-lifetime crisis, and it’s vital that we know how to support schools so that each child struggling with a mental health problem gets the help and support they need to thrive in school.”
The charity has launched its first-ever young-person led policy steering group, made up of five young people from across England and Wales to help shape the work around the inquiry.
To submit to the inquiry, please click here.