Wellbeing officers at state schools could help to improve the health of pupils and teachers, according to a new report.
Healthcare organisation Nuffield Health has stated that dedicated, continued support from these specialist officers would help tackle problems such as low levels of exercise, high levels of obesity and poor emotional wellbeing.
Nuffield is launching a Head of Wellbeing pilot project in a UK secondary school, which will include the development of a health and wellbeing programme to meet the needs of the local area.
David Mobbs, Nuffield Health's chief executive, said: "The issue of wellbeing within schools has been largely overlooked up until now.
"The Head of Wellbeing role will provide much needed support to headteachers to engage with pupils and staff, not just about physical wellbeing but also emotional wellbeing. This is why we are leading a new pilot to identify the benefits this role would have on the whole school."
The organisation says there is a clear need for wellbeing initiatives to focus both on physical and emotional factors, citing research from 2020health showing 75 per cent of school children and young people living with mental illness go undiagnosed.
Those in teaching jobs also stand to benefit from the appointment of wellbeing officers, the report states.
Schools could help to improve the health of their pupils by conducting regular measurements of wellbeing. Additional staff training may also prove beneficial to detect early signs of mental health issues, as half of all diagnosable mental health conditions are thought to start before the age of 14 and 75 per cent by the age of 21.
The school environment is the second most important influence on children's and young people’s development, after the parental home.
A Head of Wellbeing could raise awareness of health issues among parents, including the importance of regulated screen-time, increased physical activity and a balanced diet.
School workshops held by 2020health, which included both staff and pupils, revealed the need for better wellbeing support and more of a focus on physical activity and nutrition.
Posted by Alan Douglas