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Friday, 4 December 2020

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Teachers lack confidence in managing pupils’ mental health needs ahead of return to school

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ONLY a third (34%) of teachers and school staff feel confident they would be able to recognise mental health and emotional wellbeing problems from the behaviour of their pupils, according to new data released from the children’s mental health charity Place2Be.

The data, gathered from 1,564 teachers and school staff during the lockdown, reveals that more than a quarter (27%) said managing classroom behaviour feels stressful or causes them anxiety.

Place2Be has announced the launch of a new online training programme for schools on children’s mental health. Thanks to generous grants, the Mental Health Champions – Foundation programme is now available to 50,000 UK teachers to build skills and capacity for supporting positive mental health in school communities following the COVID-19 lockdown. Teachers can register their interest in the course at place2be.org.uk/foundation.

Only 28% of respondents felt confident that they could intervene to support pupils with serious social, behavioural or emotional issues, and this dropped to 17% for teachers with less than six years’ teaching experience. Just one in five (21%) are confident about tools or strategies to recognise and support emotional problems amongst pupils, and this reduces to 15% for those with less than six years’ experience.

Concerningly, only half (52%) of all respondents feel confident in approaching their school’s management team about their own mental health and wellbeing, and almost a quarter (23%) say it is unlikely they will still be a teacher in five years’ time. However, more positively, after months away from their pupils, the majority (68%) say they are looking forward to the next year of teaching.

Over 3,300 teachers and allied professionals took part in a pilot of the Mental Health Champions – Foundation programme during the lockdown. According to a poll of participants, 93% said they have changed their actions, behaviour or attitude in the classroom as a result of something that they learned on the course.

Catherine Roche, Chief Executive of Place2Be, said: 

“For children and families who were already struggling before the pandemic, we know that lockdown and the increased uncertainty of the past few months have been exceptionally tough, and some of this might result in challenging behaviour when we get back into classrooms.

“Teachers play a crucial role in helping to normalise difficult feelings and promoting positive ways to look after our mental health, as well as spotting the signs when a child might be struggling and need professional help. There has never been a more important time for teachers to feel equipped and confident in their roles.

“Place2Be is proud to offer its mental health training programme to 50,000 UK teachers, many of whom have received little to no professional training in children’s mental health. I urge all teachers to register.”

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