Rising numbers of school children are suffering from mental health issues but there is a serious gap in the care on offer, a report has found.
Today’s children are facing an “extraordinary range” of pressures such as anxiety and stress according to the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) and the National Children’s Bureau.
The report claims that while schools are seeing more young people in need of help, many are struggling to obtain mental health care for those that need specialist support.
Children and young people need access to a wider range of early intervention services beyond the school gates, and when they do get ill, the NHS needs to step in with adequately resourced and accessible treatment.
– ASCL and National Children’s Bureau report
A survey of 338 school leaders, most of them working in secondary schools, found 55% have seen a large increase in students suffering from anxiety and stress in the last five years, while more than 40% said there had been a big increase in cyber bullying.
In addition, nearly eight in 10 said they had seen a rise in self harm or suicidal thoughts among pupils.
Almost two thirds said they had faced challenges in obtaining mental health care from services in their area for youngsters who need specialist support, while 53% of those who had made a referral to their Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAHMS) rated their effectiveness as poor or very poor.
Chief executive of the National Children’s Bureau, Anna Feuchtwang, said: “While schools are doing their best to help, in cases where children are in acute need they require specialist mental health services to step in and provide support.
“Unfortunately, teachers say that limited capacity in these services often makes referrals very difficult.”