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Teachers 'should be trained to recognise students with mental health needs'

03/10/2017 Joanna

Teaching staff need more training to help them identify students who may be in need of mental health support, according to a new report.

The British Psychological Society (BPS) has carried out a review of current evidence in order to propose practical ways the psychological wellbeing of staff and pupils can be addressed in school settings.

It was pointed out that at present, the quality of mental health support in UK schools is relatively patchy and inconsistent. Around one in four pupils show signs of mental ill-health at some stage - or as many as three children in every classroom - yet only 25 to 40 per cent of these pupils receive mental health care early enough, or at all.

Part of this is that school staff do not necessarily know enough to ensure that any mental health and counselling services they commission or purchase are of a sufficiently high standard, nor do they have the expertise to identify when a child may be in need of specialist help.

As such, the report called for teachers to receive training to help teachers differentiate between normal distress and something more deep rooted, and to embrace psychological interventions as a key element of the way they promote emotional health and wellbeing.

This would make it necessary to implement ongoing systems of consultation and advice for staff, while supervising those undertaking a more formal therapeutic role.

Review author Julia Faulconbridge, child lead at the BPS division of clinical psychology, said: "We believe psychologically healthy schools with support for the wellbeing of staff and students should be a priority.

"Schools can provide a setting in which we can work to improve the resilience and psychological wellbeing of children and young people to prevent the development of difficulties as well as intervening early when difficulties arise."

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