A recent NHS study revealed alarming statistics about the state of mental health of children and young people. It highlighted almost one in five 7–16-year-olds have a probable mental health disorder. Schools often bear the burden of students’ mental health difficulties. However, staff wellbeing shouldn’t be forgotten either and so Teacher Tapp has been looking at how confident teachers are dealing with students’ - and their own - mental health.
Three-quarters of primary teachers believe that mental health will be a barrier to their pupils’ learning over the next six months. Across all levels of intake affluence, this was the major concern among teachers, together with poverty and hunger. Worries about mental health were mainly concentrated in the more deprived areas of England.
Funding mental health leads
Cast your mind back approximately four education secretaries, to the government White Paper. One of its most popular announcements, supported by three-quarters of teachers, was the additional funding of a senior mental health lead for all schools. Such a role would likely be welcomed, as only 40% of teachers said they’d be confident dealing with a safeguarding issue regarding mental health.
When given the choice of how to direct an additional £1bn of funding, one in three teachers said they would like to see it go towards greater mental health support. Until recently, when the cost-of-living crisis assumed prominence, this was the most popular option among those presented to respondents, including developing the curriculum.
Anxiety, depression and stress is a problem for both students and teachers alike. Almost one in three teachers say that they have consistent feelings of burnout - higher than at any point in the past five years. One in 10 teachers say they’ve had time off due to mental health within the past year, but this has remained unchanged in the past five years. A growing number of teachers admit to burn-out but don’t feel they can take time off to recover.
Two-thirds of headteachers say their school has a mental health and wellbeing policy - but only 37% of classroom teachers are aware of this! It highlights a big difference in the perceptions of classroom teachers and heads - a consistent pattern across similar Teacher Tapp questions about staff awareness of school policies.
Iain Ford is senior data and reporting analyst at Teacher Tapp. You can take part in and see the result of regular teacher surveys by signing up to the Teacher Tapp app