Student Mental Health

Student Mental Health

While Mark Mate focuses primarily on teachers, it’s becoming increasingly hard to not notice the rise in mental health concerns of students. Students’ mental health issues have become more and more prevalent in recent years. It’s long past the point of something needing to change.

The Statistics

In 2017, 12.8 per cent of five to 19 years olds showed signs of at least one mental health issue. A further five per cent met the criteria for two or more disorders. The interviews also showed a dramatic rise in the prevalence of mental health of mental health issues among children and young people over the last two decades.

15 year olds have been a key age group covered in all studies since the late 1990’s. The latest data for this age group shows 11.2 per cent of people in this age group suffer with their mental health. This is an increase of 15 per cent over 1999’s figure of 9.7 per cent.

Why The Change?

There are a number of factors that impact a young person’s mental health. Some of these have developed over more modern times, while some have always been there. Things  like family breakdown, mistreatment of children and bullying have always been a contributing factor to mental health issues, but in more recent years the rise of cyber-bullying has been increasingly hard to ignore.

Arguments and fall outs are of course a natural part of growing up, but now with the advent of social media and smartphones, confrontations aren’t always finished at the end of the school day. They can follow you home. In the ever-more-connected world we live in, young people permanently have access to each other. Bullying is categorised as repetitive, persistent and intended to be hurtful. We can all spot the signs of it happening in front of us, but not so much when it’s happening online, away from others’ eyes.

There is a long list of signs to keep an eye out for, these may include children:

  • avoiding school
  • becoming withdrawn or secretive
  • not having many (any) friends
  • having property that gets constantly damaged
  • appearing overly sensitive or easily distressed
  • having angry or explosive outbursts

Of course, bullying and cyber-bullying aren’t the only things that cause mental health problems in young people, but they’re arguably the most common.

How Can Schools Help

Schools can help perpetrators and victims of bullying by supporting all children to learn and use social and emotional skills. Skills such as relationship building and tolerance and empathy are invaluable when it comes to any form of bullying. Key messages around these areas should be consistently reinforced through broader curriculum activities.

The long term effects of bullying can be absolutely devastating, and schools should be paying attention to the needs of pupils who have been bullied. Additional support through counselling, or linking with an external community support service are two great ways of supporting victims of bullying in schools.

How does your school deal with bullying or cyber-bullying? Are you one of your schools leaders with this? We’d love to hear from you in the comments!

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