A large number of children are being affected by mental health issues, according to a new survey, but secondary teachers could have a part to play in helping to address them.
New mental health charity MindFull surveyed over 2,000 young adults and found one in five had shown signs of depression before they turned 16, while 32 per cent had considered or attempted suicide by this stage.
Furthermore, 29 per cent said they had self-harmed because they felt down and 39 per cent found it hard to leave the house, while 38 per cent of children affected by depression ran away from home as a result.
The poll revealed that 52 per cent of young people who had been depressed as children considered themselves to have been let down by their experiences of mental health support, with 47 per cent saying they never received the help they needed.
Emma Jane-Cross, chief executive officer of MindFull, commented: "It's unacceptable that so many are having to resort to harming themselves on purpose in order to cope, or worse still are thinking about ending their own lives.
"Early intervention is proven to help prevent adult mental health problems, so swift action must be taken now if we are to avoid a legacy of serious long-term mental illness."
Nearly two thirds of respondents said teaching pupils about mental health issues and also providing training for staff in teaching jobs would have a positive impact.
MindFull is itself calling for mental health to be made a core part of the national curriculum and for schools to provide children with access to counselling and mentor support.
The report received the backing of chartered clinical psychologist Professor Tanya Byron, who argued children's mental wellbeing should be prioritised just as their physical health is.
Health minister Norman Lamb responded that the government has invested £54 million into improving access to mental health treatments for children and young people, with one in three living in areas where mental health services have been transformed.
Posted by Harriet McGowan