Mental health and wellbeing in schools

Good mental health in schools is crucial for fostering pupils' healthy development and ensuring regular attendance. It also promotes engagement in learning and helps unlock their full potential.

Below, we explore why focusing on children's mental health at school is important. And, how it can influence their success both inside and outside the classroom.


Facts about mental health in schools

Mental health issues among children and young people are increasingly common. A recent survey by NHS England found that about one in five young people in England had a probable mental health disorder. Schools need to implement effective support systems such as early intervention and access to professional help. This will help pupils succeed both in school and emotionally.

1 in 5

One in five children and young people had a
probable mental disorder in 2023. (NHS England)



The importance of prioritising wellbeing

Holistic development
Pupil wellbeing is key to their holistic development. It affects their ability to concentrate, engage, and retain information. When students feel well, they are more curious, resilient, and capable of handling challenges. A school environment that promotes wellbeing helps develop well-rounded young people prepared for life beyond school.

Emotional health
Supporting emotional health in schools is critical. Pupils that feel well are generally more confident and capable of building positive relationships with their friends and teachers. Schools that create a safe space for emotional expression often see less bullying and other disruptive behaviours. This makes  the school a happier place to be.

Academic performance and attendance
Student mental health, academic performance and attendance have a strong correlation. When students are mentally and physically healthy, they're more likely to attend school and engage with learning. This often leads to better grades and a higher quality of work. By addressing mental health in schools, you can indirectly enhance the learning outcomes for all pupils.

Long-term benefits
Supporting student wellbeing has long-term benefits. It equips them with skills for better job prospects, relationships, and overall life satisfaction. It can also reduce future costs related to healthcare, social care, and the criminal justice system by giving young people the tools to lead productive lives.

Implementing Wellbeing Strategies School-wide 
The government supports a comprehensive approach to mental health and wellbeing in schools. This approach is based on eight evidence-based principles to make sure it is implemented effectively.

These principles encompass:

  • Leadership and management that supports and champions efforts to promote emotional health and wellbeing.
  • Curriculum teaching and learning to promote resilience and support social and emotional learning.
  • Enabling student voice to influence decisions.
  • Staff development to support their own wellbeing and that of students.
  • Identifying need and monitoring impact of interventions.
  • Working with parents and carers
  • Targeted support and appropriate referral.
  • An ethos and environment that promotes respect and values diversity.



How Thrive can support mental health in schools

Thrive is dedicated to improving mental health and wellbeing in schools. Through our training and tools, we help schools create supportive environments that foster the overall growth of every pupil.

Our training

Pupil Wellbeing Courses: Thrive offers foundational Pupil Wellbeing courses that provide essential knowledge in neuroscience, attachment theory, and child development. These courses equip educators with the understanding needed to support pupils' wellbeing and emotional health effectively.

Thrive Licensed Practitioner Courses: For those seeking a deeper exploration, our advanced Thrive Licensed Practitioner courses delve into the complexities of pupil behaviour and emotional wellbeing. These courses help practitioners support and improve the emotional wellbeing and resilience of the children they work with.

DfE-Assured Senior Mental Health Lead Course: Thrive provides a government-endorsed course designed for Senior Mental Health Leads in schools. This course is pivotal in helping schools embed the Department for Education's (DfE) eight key principles for mental health and wellbeing. Schools in England can benefit from a £1200 grant to cover the cost of this course. This leaves £320 to spend in their setting on mental health and wellbeing.

Thrive-Online: An innovative assessment and action planning tool

Thrive-Online is an award-winning software solution that helps schools adopt a whole-school or college approach to mental health. With the tool you can assess pupils' social and emotional wellbeing and create tailored action plans to support them. By using Thrive-Online, schools can monitor progress, adjust strategies as needed, and achieve measurable improvements in pupil wellbeing.


Frequently Asked Questions

How can teachers support children's mental health?

Teachers can support children's mental health by creating a safe and inclusive environment where students feel comfortable expressing themselves. They should recognise signs of distress early, offer positive reinforcement, and model healthy coping strategies. Collaborating with mental health professionals and maintaining open communication with parents ensures comprehensive support.

Additionally, integrating stress management techniques into the curriculum and promoting peer support initiatives equips students with essential skills for managing emotions and building resilience. Teachers should encourage pupils to seek help from trusted adults or wellbeing resources within the school community when needed.

If a teacher believes a child needs more clinical treatment, they can refer them to the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS). CAMHS offers access to trained mental health professionals such as social workers, psychologists, and family therapists. However, be aware that waiting times for this service can be long.

Teachers can consider enrolling in one of our Pupil Wellbeing courses to enhance their ability to support student wellbeing. These courses provide essential knowledge in neuroscience, attachment theory, and child development, empowering educators to effectively support pupils' emotional health.

What are the most common mental health issues in schools?

In 2023, a survey by NHS England revealed that one in five children and young people in England, aged eight to 25, likely experienced a mental disorder. This included mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression, and behavioural issues. Notably, rates of eating disorders also showed significant increases, particularly among 17 to 19-year-olds, affecting 12.5% of this age group compared to 0.8% in 2017.

These findings highlight how common mental health issues are among young people in education. As a result, programs like Mental Health Support Teams (MHSTs) have been set up in schools to offer support.

Should mental health be treated in schools?

As more children face mental health challenges, there's a growing need for well-funded support systems within schools, including counselling and Mental Health Support Teams (MHSTs) for early intervention.
While schools can be a source of support, they also pose stress, particularly during exams. Integrating mental health services ensures timely access to resources. Financial constraints on schools and local authorities remain a barrier, though.

In addition to traditional counselling, Thrive offers a trauma-informed whole school approach focusing on social and emotional needs. Grounded in neuroscience and attachment theory, it empowers educators to build supportive environments. Thrive emphasises early intervention and resilience-building, not diagnosis or therapeutic counselling for specific conditions, to enhance overall wellbeing in school communities.

What are the main causes of mental health problems in schools?

Mental health problems in schools can stem from various factors. Key causes include bullying, abuse, and bereavement, which can lead to long-term anxiety and depression. Difficult home life, like divorce or family conflicts, and major changes like moving to a new house can cause mental distress.

Teen substance abuse and pre-existing conditions like ADHD or autism also increase the risk of mental health issues. Providing targeted support and training in schools and colleges is essential for addressing these issues.

Case studies

While it is important to understand the model behind The Thrive Approach, what really matters is the impact that it can have in practice for the development of an individual child or young person.

View case studies

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