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Primary school teachers 'lack training to deal with mental health issues'

22/09/2017 Joanna

A majority of primary school teachers do not feel they have been properly prepared to deal with the mental health issues faced by their students.

This is according to a new survey of 330 primary teachers polled by YouGov on behalf of the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families, which showed that although 92 per cent believe that schools can play a key role in identifying pupils with mental health problems, many do not feel equipped to do so effectively at present.

When asked whether they had the necessary training to feel confident about what action to take when a child was experiencing a mental health problem, only ten per cent voiced a strong agreement with this statement, compared to 54 per cent who disagreed.

Meanwhile, about four in ten teachers who took part in the poll said they were not confident they knew which organisations to approach to help a pupil with mental health issues, whereas only 12 per cent said they felt confident on this front.

The report also showed that 72 per cent of teachers believe that mental health should be a compulsory curriculum topic for primary pupils, but also that 41 per cent had not taught a class on mental health as part of a planned lesson during the last year, or could not recall when they had last taught such a class.

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said: "We know schools have a vital role to play in promoting pupil wellbeing and in the early identification of children with mental health needs.

"It is essential that schools are supported by properly funded and well-linked-in health and social care services. If support and funding is inadequate and services inaccessible or unavailable, many young people could continue to get a raw deal.”

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