Support from people at school

Some young people seek support from someone they trust at school like a head teacher, guidance teacher or the school nurse. 

  • How likely are the young people you care for to seek mental health support from someone at their school?
  • If they have  spoken to someone at their school, what has been their experience of that?
  • What improvements do you think could be made?
  • Is there anyone else they might speak to at their school?

Why the contribution is important

It is important for us to learn about your experiences and ideas for improvements so we can make it easier for young people to get mental health support from people at their school.

by ScotParlCEU on November 06, 2018 at 08:02PM

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  • Posted by Apple11 November 14, 2018 at 23:50

    In my experience it is difficult for a young person to raise mental health concerns with a teacher/guidance teacher. Friends have been most helpful, for example by raising concerns with a guidance teacher and paving the way for problems to then be shared. However, we experienced a significant time lag between concerns first being raised at school and us as parents being contacted by the school. During this time problems worsened significantly. No signposting to external agencies was provided and no further contact was made to check on progress or offer support It gave us and our child the message that mental health problems were something that had to be sorted out separate from school, adding to a sense of shame and isolation. School was not a supporting partner and this could very easily be improved by making periodic contact, asking open questions about progress and offering the odd warm statement of support.
  • Posted by Sarah87 November 25, 2018 at 18:44

    In order to keep support in school you need to bring in more counsellors. You need to increase school budgets to have adequate support staff and staff in the corridors to monitor what is going on. Cutting school budgets is not going to ensure properly trained high level of staffing to combat the mental health crisis
  • Posted by cairistiona2003 November 27, 2018 at 12:54

    I think that guidance teachers have a role to play and my daughter's guidance teacher has been very supportive, but I don't think this can be the whole answer as guidance teachers have many responsibilities, such as discipline and teaching their own classes. Perhaps there could be a youth worker or counsellor associated with the school? I am not sure what would work as there is a still a lot of stigma about mental health. From my own experience of parenting a child with mental health problems, it seems like the stigma is greater for younger people as they have to keep up an image in front of their peers and don't want to be seen to not be coping.
    As far as support and prevention go, I think it would be great if young people could be trained to support each other. My daughter has experienced school as a very competitive and uncaring place (academically and socially), although her guidance teacher has been concerned and caring. Until we can turn the atmosphere in schools around so that there is peer support instead of competition and bullying or social exclusion, then I think we are going to be facing an uphill battle with mental health problems.
  • Posted by LivedExperience December 05, 2018 at 14:37

    Having supported our youngest through a very difficult secondary school journey, I can see clearly how a 'one size fits all' approach does not work. Whilst the school tried very hard to find different ways of working with our child including a reduced timetable, time out in the resource/library room and support for learning workers. However our child rejected all this as it made them feel different (in a negative way) so ultimately they simply avoided going to school. I don't have an answer to how to manage/change this but I am concerned that the Scottish Government are adopting a 'one size fits all approach' with the idea of having school counsellors.

    I do not think that simply providing school counsellors is the answer. In fact I think it begins to pathologise what for many are ordinary but difficult experiences. Secondary school is a melting pot of puberty, adolescence, sexuality, emotions, stress and relationships. People will have good, bad or mixed experiences of all these----but they are part of life. Young people need to be heard (not just listened to), they need to have the support from peers, family and others to explore what works for them. Therefore developing more peer/buddy mentoring in schools, making the teaching fit with life rather than exam results are really important. Do we have the right balance in our curriculum for learning subject and developing life skills and coping strategies?
  • Posted by simpson December 07, 2018 at 10:12

    In the process of trying to help two children , both suffering from anxiety, to cope with secondary school.

    I think more understanding of how mental health is real and the impact it has on the child’s whole outlook is very important. All staff would need to be aware of this and giving advice on how to help the child and have the knowledge on where this information is passed to. If the child has asked for staff to be made aware of their feelings/ difficulties at that time, the information should be passed on.

    It would be helpful if health and education worked together for the child rather than deciding which budget is paying for the support. Perhaps extra money could be ringposted specifically for mental health for children in education with the understanding that both health and education use the money to support the child within the school environment.
  • Posted by drysdalen December 11, 2018 at 10:49

    I would just like to add that careers advisers are also placed in schools and frequently assist young people to talk and contextualise obstacles they face in progressing in life and future planning- including Mental Health issues. There is a need for all front line staff in schools to be trained to deal with talking about Mental Health, to understand local referral mechanisms, to work in a joined up way to support young people and for schools themselves to promote Mental Health self management. There used to be (in England) a common assessment /referral framework which could be used by any or all professionals involved with a young person to make sure they got joined up support. However, GDPR regulations may now make such information sharing difficult. I agree a culture change is needed- we teach kids PE to ensure they stay physcally fit, so why don't we do the same for mental health fitness?
  • Posted by hihihello December 13, 2018 at 21:25

    I have a child with anxiety at High School. We found that getting the right help through school was difficult to obtain, and priceless once begun. However, despite support at school being aware of the issues my child faced, none of her day to day teachers were aware of the problems she had due to confidentiality. We had to make them aware at a parents night and once that had happened, things began to improve. Confidentiality is of course important but not sharing issues like this can also be detrimental to the student. Teachers have a very difficult job as it is so more mental health support is definitely needed for them to spot the signs and signpost young people to help. However, I strongly believe that they are teachers and should have the time to teach without adding counselling to their roles. Having a mental health practitioner in all schools I feel is essential to improving the mental health in young people, but its a difficult one as so many still feel stigmatised by what is an increasingly common problem. I agree with a previous comment that mental fitness is just as important as physical fitness and should be approached as such. Young people should be taught about coping strategies, negative thinking patterns, mindfulness, basic CBT etc as part of their curriculum.
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