Report Shows Depression and Self-harm on the Rise in School Children

Rising mental health issues are causing almost half of schools in England to see a rise in depression and self-harm amongst children.

Incidents of self-harm among children and young people are affecting more than 10,000 schools, as research issued today shows a 45% increase across schools in England.

The Key – an organisation providing leadership and management support to schools – reveals its annual State of Education Survey report today, showing that three in five (60%) of the headteachers and other school leaders surveyed have also seen an increase in depression among students over the past two years.

One designated safeguarding lead (DSL) at a secondary school said: “The rise in mental health problems is huge, and safeguarding issues are also becoming really broad – there are so many things to cover now. The biggest challenge as a DSL is trying to keep up to date and working out what staff need to know.”

Speaking about the findings, Fergal Roche, CEO of The Key said: “With worry over safeguarding issues growing and many schools feeling the pressure, it is critical that school leaders have the dedicated time they need to focus on supporting their pupils.”

In response to calls for more support for pupil mental health, the government has recently pledged £200,000 towards mental health “first aid” training for secondary school teachers to help them identify and deal with issues like anxiety, self-harm and depression. The money is expected to fund training for 1,000 teachers in the first year of the scheme.

Despite the government’s commitment to extend this training to all primary schools by the end of parliament, it may be coming too late for many children, with over half of primary school leaders (55%) telling The Key that they have already seen a rise in depression among pupils over the last two years.

The good news from the report is that schools are doing all they can to support their pupils’ wellbeing. Interventions include staff working closely with parents in two-thirds (66%) of schools, and counselling provision in nearly six in 10 (58%) schools. Over half (57%) already run their own staff training to help staff identify early indicators of mental health issues.

Diana Dewing, Managing Director of Thrive comments, “It is important to acknowledge the extent of the problem and the need to support healthy emotional development and wellbeing in all pupils. A whole school approach that supports age appropriate development from early years through to young adulthood is needed, Screening of all children can help to identify problems early. If screening is coupled with an early targeted response to individual needs, the result will be better outcomes for all.”

In light of these findings, The Key has worked with a team of safeguarding specialists to provide INSET training materials for all schools to download now, ready to deliver in staff training sessions this September.

Fergal Roche, The Key’s CEO continued: “Ultimately, all children and young people should be given the best chances in life, and we hope these up-to-date INSET training materials will give all school staff peace of mind and free up time to give the right kind of support to those pupils who need it.”

Click here for a full copy of the report and findings.

The Thrive Approach promotes the early identification of emotional development needs in children and young adults so that differentiated provision can be put in place quickly by the adults working most closely with the child or young adult. Thrive courses are preventative, reparative and pragmatic and run throughout the UK. Working successfully with children to further their social and emotional development is key to wellbeing and Thrive can provide you with the knowledge and practical activities to enable this.  Thrive also provide courses for senior leadership teams on how to implement the approach as a whole school initiative. Find out where the next Senior Leader courses are taking place here.

Click here to view our Practitioner courses. From Early Years right through to Adolescents, the Thrive Approach exists to support children throughout their journey growing up, helping to cultivate positive mental health.

You can contact Thrive on 01392 797555; alternatively, find us on FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn accounts.