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What is the role of education in promoting emotional wellbeing in children & young people?

Discussion in 'Education news' started by HouseOfCommons, Feb 21, 2017.

  1. HouseOfCommons

    HouseOfCommons New commenter

    Share your views on the role of education in promoting emotional wellbeing in children and young people and preventing the development of mental health problems.

    The Health and Education Select Committees would like to know:
    • What training have you received on student emotional well-being and mental health, either through your initial teacher training or in-school CPD?
    • How useful have you found any relevant training? Do you feel well-equipped?
    • Does your school or college have a counsellor/ dedicated support for the emotional well-being and mental health of its students?
    • Should the curriculum include teaching on promoting good mental health? Is PSHE the right place for this?
    • How aware are you of the impact of social media on the mental health of your students

    This follows on from a Health Committee inquiry in the last Parliament into child and adolescent health services in which young people said they wanted access to mental health services within schools. Your experiences and opinions will inform the inquiry and help the Committees to make recommendations to the Government.

    The deadline for submissions is Tuesday 28 February.
  2. snowyhead

    snowyhead Lead commenter

    Taking your points in turn:

    1. None.

    2. N/A. Feel fairly ill-equipped, but then I am a teacher not a mental health nurse or a social worker.

    3. No. We rely on outside agencies who employ qualified medical professionals to support children with mental health and/or emotional needs.

    4. The primary curriculum is already packed to the rafters with non-core subjects. Not entirely sure how we would squeeze in the promotion of good mental health as a discreet topic. However, I do think that mental health awareness is important for everyone in society: it should begin at home and be complemented by our education and health care sectors. Parents need to be educated to identify issues in their children's mental health: it's their job as primary care givers. Needs to part of compulsory parent craft classes from birth to ten: child benefit should only be paid to those who attend classes and tax incentives given to those who can't claim child benefit.

    5. As part of Computing lessons we educate children about the impact of living life in the spotlight of social media. We need parents to embrace this too and start to take responsibility for policing their children's access to the internet.
  3. Billie73

    Billie73 Occasional commenter

    Why don't you just tell us? You never act on the responses anyway.
  4. peggylu

    peggylu Star commenter

    Also taking the points in turn

    1. No

    2. N/A see 1. and no.

    3. Yes.

    4. Perhaps in PSHE delivered by visiting experts.

    5. On an individual student level, not at all. Collectively as much as any other adult is aware of this 21st century issue, including the parents of students.
  5. drek

    drek Lead commenter

    I feel our responses will be used to provide evidence for MPs to stop funding public health services and add yet another unpaid job to a teacher's workload.

    I don't think students feel that their teachers should provide this service because according to you they asked for access to this service at school.
    Not quite the same thing as asking for teachers to provide this service.

    If they asked for clean classrooms would you ask us if we needed a qualification and training in how to be good industrial cleaning technicians?

    There may be some teachers who aren't on a full time table or whose courses don't need all of their energy, time and personal resources to teach.

    If such teachers want to volunteer to study part time and gain a properly verified qualification (not run by people who think they are wonderful at it) in this area then they should be allowed to volunteer for it.

    Stop fooling around with mental and emotional health of children as a cost cutting initiative like you do everything else.

    Even Oprah used qualified psychologists on her talk shows. Being a brilliant talk show host didn't mean she had the knowledge or insight into solving mental and emotional issues in reality.

    Her talking, networking, the team behind her and her ability to demonstrate empathy was where her skills lay and what she got so well paid for!

    Mrsmumbles, Billie73, dleaf12 and 4 others like this.
  6. bajan

    bajan Occasional commenter

    What snowyhead and drek said.
    Shedman likes this.
  7. phlogiston

    phlogiston Star commenter

    In my mainstream job, I received little guidance or training about student mental health. Decades ago, it occasionally popped up as an item in staff meetings. This was in the days when the school had appropriate counsellors provided by a body called the Local Authority. They gave a lot of support to students with problems.
    I've been out of the mainstream for a couple of years - in recent years we had some token "mental health weeks" where form tutors delivered some low impact stuff.

    I now teach at a charitable institution which takes pupils who have fallen out of the mainstream. I now have greater awareness of MH issues, but do not have to do much about them because we have properly trained counsellors and psychotherapists who do that part of the job.

    Teachers need enough knowledge to recognise when a vulnerable child needs support, and be able to refer the child knowing that they will get timely and professional help rather than an exclusion (either self imposed or from the school management).
    The curriculum needs to be organised with both teacher mental health and student mental health in mind. Excellence does not mean pushing children until some of them break. it may mean a school having resources for appropriate subjects and group sizes to provide a supportive environment for vulnerable children.

    Part of the teacher recruitment crisis is down to the poor mental health suffered by some teachers as a result of workload and poor management. If you refuse to look after the workforce, it becomes harder for them to look out for the children.
    galerider123, Mrsmumbles and Shedman like this.
  8. drvs

    drvs Star commenter

    Teachers already identify and flag up concerns over student mental health through informal, non-accountable processes within their existing remit. It's part of what we do. Training to further support this ability would be welcomed in many quarters. Additional layers of responsibility, accountability and cost, however, would be a further nail in the coffin of what is already a deeply unhealthy workforce. Is this government capable of introducing an initiative without introducing the "need" for further evidence-generating workload, additional staffing costs and additional responsibility on teachers?

    This follows this: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-38548567

    "Every secondary school to be offered mental health first aid training - which teaches people how to identify symptoms and help people who may be developing a mental health issue"

    Long experience of school based initiatives designed to band aid societal issues leads us to expect that the wording will shift over time from "offered" to "given", participation will become compulsory, inspected and as a result a set of additional expectations on schools, their budgets and their staff will develop.

    Here are a few questions which perhaps should also have been included in the OP:
    • What spare capacity do your teaching staff have to take on additional training and responsibilities?
    • Do you feel it should be within the remit of teachers to "identify symptoms and help people who may be developing a mental health issue"?
    • How will your school afford, or continue to afford, salaries for the councillors and mental health experts which will become compulsory in the face of inadequate central funding?
    • Should parents be better educated by the state to "identify symptoms and help people who may be developing a mental health issue"?
    No teacher will say that child mental health is not important. Most would agree that some teaching around the subject of mental wellbeing would enhance the curriculum. With a workforce which itself is suffering unprecedented mental health issues, is overloaded to breaking point, is poorly rewarded and poorly treated by government, the media and the public, who will have the capacity to substitute for the parent, the GP and psychiatrists in taking responsibility for identifying and supporting mental health issues?

    Society has many problems and it is true that many of those could be reduced if issues were identified, rectified or avoided during childhood. It is paramount that parents be educated and held to account for their responsibilities. Instead, the last decade has seen relentless addition of responsibilities placed on schools to pick up the slack from parents. This, coupled with an insatiable appetite for inspection focused initiatives and constant change, has led to the current situation where school staff are overwhelmed by conflicting priorities and year on year have diminished capacity to actually focus on the core purpose of teaching and learning. Against a backdrop of curriculum change, ever increasing expectation on results, decreasing funding per student head, decreasing respect from the community, salaries decreasing in real terms, pensions decreasing in value and unprecedented workload, it is hard to see an end to the recruitment and retention crisis.

    By all means, fund an additional service which runs independently within schools, but please don't add any more straws - those inside the camel know that it can't take any more and have been screaming it for months. Please listen.
  9. JosieWhitehead

    JosieWhitehead Lead commenter

    I didn't receive training of this kind and taught very successfully for 30 plus years. I have a natural empathy towards others though and this is important. Even now, in my seventies, you'll find people coming up to me and telling me so many things. My students always felt they could confide in me and that I would give them the benefit of my own advice/experience. If they have emotional/mental problems, they should go to a trained counsellor via their doctor. Having time to listen to what they say is important, although with pressure of work, this time is being eroded.
    galerider123, Mrsmumbles and drek like this.
  10. les25paul

    les25paul Star commenter

    i believe that some basic training where teachers are taught to recognise and appreciate student emotional well-being and mental health issues would be very valuable. This training would need to be delivered by qualified medical personnel..

    Other then that all mental health issues should be dealt with by a suitably mental health professional and not teachers whose role is entirely different,
    phlogiston and drvs like this.
  11. peggylu

    peggylu Star commenter

    Brilliant analogy.
    Mrsmumbles likes this.
  12. peggylu

    peggylu Star commenter

    This is one of the best posts I've ever read on TES. This says it all and very eloquently Well done and let's hope if these comments are to be sent on elsewhere that they get the attention they deserve.
    Mrsmumbles and drvs like this.
  13. dleaf12

    dleaf12 Occasional commenter


    • What training have you received on student emotional well-being and mental health, either through your initial teacher training or in-school CPD? None
    • How useful have you found any relevant training? N/A Do you feel well-equipped? Not especially, but then its NOT PART OF MY JOB. I have enough to do as a teacher, and beyond normal empathy and considerate treatment of the young people in my care I have no wish to extend my activities (and will not).
    • Does your school or college have a counsellor/ dedicated support for the emotional well-being and mental health of its students? Yes - and they're being overwhelmed by breaking youngsters, not all of whom are "swinging the lead".
    • Should the curriculum include teaching on promoting good mental health? Are you having a laugh? Do you really, truly think "having good mental health" can be taught in a classroom? Good Mental Health is a lifestyle practice. Part of what happens in schools is the socialisation of children to enable them to take their place in society and interact with their peers and others appropriately. This is a process that goes on for each and every minute that they are in school and is promoted by the schools values and ethos which have to be strongly promoted by staff and children alike . Is PSHE the right place for this? No. (See above)
    • How aware are you of the impact of social media on the mental health of your students Every day and in every lesson I see teenagers obsessing about their social media lives. I have no idea what they do but it doesn't seem to bring them much happiness and hugely distracts them from more important things. They are also losing the ability to interact in person, with a seeming incomprehension of the significance of tone and facial expression in personal communication.

      Maybe you should take down the social media websites and then we'll find out what harm they're doing?

      While we're on the subject of mental health of youngsters, perhaps you could do something to reduce the nonsensical individual targets and exam results as the whole focus of education that your policies have promoted, and which more than anything else I am aware of cause such continuously high levels of stress in our children.
  14. Justkeepingup

    Justkeepingup New commenter

    Ha! Have you spoken to your colleagues at the Department for Education, who keep piling on the pressure for children through a constant round of high-stakes testing and controlled assessment?
    I am a primary teacher who sees children as young as five worrying about test results. I also have a child in Year 12 who is at breaking point from the never-ending stress of being tested and examined. She says that she feels that there is never, and has never been, time to stop and reflect on her learning, never mind enjoy it, because it is such a high-paced gallop from one assessment to the next. She also says that because there is so much riding on the testing for her teachers, she not only feels pressure for herself to do well, she also feels responsible for ensuring that her teachers "don't get into trouble".
    No doubt there is an impact from social media on young people's wellbeing. The education system has a limited capacity to address this. It has an enormous capacity to improve the mental health of young people by reducing testing though. Maybe consider that as a way forward?
  15. Justkeepingup

    Justkeepingup New commenter

    Sorry I didn't format the paragraphing better:oops:
  16. HouseOfCommons

    HouseOfCommons New commenter

    Thank you for your responses so far. It might be useful to clarify the work of the Education and Health Committees, and the purpose of this inquiry.

    Select Committees are groups of cross-party MPs who scrutinise the Government—the Health Committee scrutinises the work of the Department of Health and the Education Committee scrutinises the Department for Education.

    Select Committees examine specific issues by gathering views and comments from various sources, including in writing and in oral evidence sessions. At the end of the inquiry, Committees usually produce a report, which will include recommendations for the Government. The Government will then respond to the Committee’s report.

    Your responses on this forum will help the Committees to influence and scrutinise the Government’s policy and expenditure—but the Committees aren’t responsible for the Government’s policy or spending decisions.

    You can find out more information about the Committee’s inquiry here, including reading the written evidence submitted to the inquiry.

    Please continue to post your comments and responses to inform the inquiry.
  17. drek

    drek Lead commenter

    In one school I worked at around 2012 I think, we did receive training from the LEA about how to recognise and flag up students, we had a spreadsheet to record the data etc. Unfortunately due to funding cuts within the corresponding council departments, it was soon made clear via SLT and the observation process, that the buck both began and ended with us teachers......

    Teachers who had identified students in their group had to include in their detailed lesson plans, how they would differentiate for such students, the strategies they used etc etc, so for some teachers lesson planning evidence writing for SLT could take up whole weekends.

    Outside school support that was promised never arrived because their funding went south, and this went on for a couple of years, until the lead in charge of liaising this programme fortunately left.

    Looks like something similar is being rolled out again........someone in the dfe must have gone poking in the recycle bin again........
  18. dleaf12

    dleaf12 Occasional commenter

    Expect a sudden decrease in observed mental health issues if this is the model...

    Shortly followed by a DfE press release saying how they've effectively tackled the problem and that schools have record levels of funding.
  19. FionaYardley

    FionaYardley New commenter

    Completely agree. The pressure that is causing mental health problems in our young people are coming from the Government. The Education Select Committee's focus needs to be on reducing the impact of the accountability agenda on the mental health of young people and their teachers.

    We have whole staff training at least once a year on supporting the mental health and wellbeing of both students and teachers. We accept that it is necessary because of the impact of the commoditisation of pupils as potential exam results rather than as young people, all of which comes from the pressures put upon us by the government. We find it frustratingly useless because we are trying to deal with the fallout of governmental pressures which we feel powerless to address directly. So we are dealing with the symptoms, not the cause.

    My school does have a counsellor/ dedicated support for the emotional well-being and mental health of its students and students have regular sessions during non-timetable days on how to look after their own mental health. A couple of our sixth formers are currently organising their own awareness and fundraising campaign on this issue.

    Yes, social media has an impact on our students' mental health, but it is the overwhelming pressure for results from the top down, the treating of children as data rather than people and the rapid change in qualifications that they, their teachers, parents and future employers don't fully understand that has the most profound impact on their mental health. And the fact that the teachers who would be able to give them the emotional support and time that they need are themselves suffering under the immense pressure put on them to achieve the results with ever decreasing resources and time because of funding cuts.

    I am aware of the fantastic scrutiny work undertaken by select committees, and would feel happier knowing that their efforts were put into addressing the causes of poor mental health amongst young people rather than potentially further burdening schools with firefighting the symptoms.
  20. blowswind

    blowswind Occasional commenter

    Begin with some concern to the mental health of teachers.

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