Increasing mental health, socialisation, and speech problems among pupils

Written by: Pete Henshaw | Published:

Poor pupil mental health is now prevalent in schools compared to pre-pandemic with teachers also seeing increased problems with socialisation and speech and language development.

A survey involving 1,800 teachers across primary and secondary schools in England finds that 90% report increased problems with mental health among children. This includes 68% of secondary respondents and 40% of primary respondents.

Furthermore, 90% report increased issues with socialisation since the pandemic took hold. This includes 59% of primary respondents and 47% of the secondary teachers.

And 72% are seeing increased problems with speech and language delay, which is a much bigger problem for primary colleagues (49%) than for secondary schools (15%).

The survey reveals a large gap between what the teachers feel is necessary to tackle the increasing issue and what schools are delivering, much of which is being constrained by budgets.

For example, while 89% of the respondents said local CAMHS or NHS mental health teams are crucial, only 15% reported having access to one.

In-school mental health support was also vital (82%), the teachers said, but only one in five respondents said it was in place.

The teachers felt that “catch-up” funding should also be used for mental health interventions (73%), but only one in 10 said this was happening in their school.

Dr Mary Bousted, NEU joint general secretary, said: “Schools, staff, parents and pupils are crying out for help as we face a mental health challenge on a scale our education system has never experienced. A decade of austerity and cuts to specialist support services, has left the system buckling under the strain.

“Nothing is normal in schools now. Pupils in every year group are finding it difficult to make the adjustment back to school life. Many are highly anxious and some find it extremely difficult to re-enter school society. This is a challenge which teachers, support staff and leaders are up to, but government is not.”

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