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 you to seek mental health support from someone at your school?
  • If you have  spoken to someone at your school, what has been your experience of that?
  • What improvements do you think could be made?
  • Is there anyone else you might speak to at your 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 October 26, 2018 at 04:40PM

Current Rating

Average score : 5.0
Based on : 3 votes


  • Posted by e1058b November 21, 2018 at 14:58

    Getting suitable support from my school proved nearly impossible. At the time, a high staff turn over at our school meant that we didn't have a consistent guidance teacher and 2 staff members doing the work of 3- we were lucky if we even saw them for PSE, let alone finding the in their office at lunch times or any other time it might have been possible to speak to them. The general idea we got was that they were over worked as it was. There was a point where one guidance teacher did try to support me by setting up regular meetings, however, these never really materialised as there were always other issues for the guidance staff to be attending to. Trying to find support outside the guidance system often lead to being referred to the guidance system because other teachers were not adequately equipped to handle such issues.
  • Posted by ScotParlModerator November 21, 2018 at 16:40

    Sorry to hear about your experience e1058b - but it's very useful to understand your particular circumstances and about the time guidance teachers had available, as well as the lack experience or knowledge elsewhere.

    Do you think there are other ways schools might be able to help the situation?

    Does this sound familiar to anyone else? Or does anyone have a different experience, or views on what can be done to improve things?
  • Posted by e1058b November 21, 2018 at 22:57

    I think finding the right way to talk about mental health in schools is key, especially as a lot of what is said is lost amongst the 'mandatory' knowledge of exams. A lot of what is said is put across in quite a clinical way (i.e. facts, figures, bullet points and tips), or like any other subject, which a lot of young people can quite easily disengage from, because of how easy it is to dissociate with simple. I would say mental health education needs to start with a conversation so that 1. it is understood what is relevant to that young person, or young people, 2. we create a communities which is supportive, ready to help and open to young people with mental health issues, 3. we help ease young people into a place where they feel comfortable talking about their issues before too long. It's so much easier to begin to explain the way you're feeling to yourself and others if someone else can put it into words first so making the dialogue open is so important.
  • Posted by ScotParlModerator November 22, 2018 at 12:54

    Fantastic, thanks for sharing e1058b, these are really useful views.

    If you have any new ideas beyond those we've already listed, please feel free to add your own in this Dialogue (there's a big "+" button on the previous screen where you can input your own ideas.
  • Posted by endowarrior_x November 25, 2018 at 23:52

    I was really lucky when I was at school as I had a guidance teacher who was absolutely brilliant. She was swapping roles within the school and became deputy headteacher but was still happy to support me as I'd built up a good relationship with her and trusted her. My teacher set up various strategies in order to help me things like meetings, time out, checking in with her first thing and then before I went home so she knew I'd be able to cope if becoming distressed and I could also drop in and see her when I needed to when I was struggling. Other teachers were supportive when I was going through a low time with my mental health and allowed extensions on course work, gave time to catch up on school work and proper support with it. My school adapted what we call the quiet space which was a place pupils can go when feeling overwhelmed. I think every teacher should be trained in mental health first aid it shouldn't just be guidance staff every school staff member has a duty of care to the pupils.
  • Posted by Muirhouse2611 December 06, 2018 at 15:52

    The group discussion about support in schools at Muirhouse Millennium Centre on Monday 26th November 2018 suggested various areas for improvement:

    It was felt that the level of support available at school varied and it is not clear what support is available. For example, some young people knew that they had a school nurse and an educational phycologist available to them whereas others did not have access to a school nurse on a regular basis, “and would probably not go to a school nurse about mental health difficulties.”

    One young person who had experience of receiving support from an educational phycologist said that they felt disappointed that there was no follow up from the school or the phycologist to see how they were doing after the support session. They felt that the school ‘had ticked a box’ in referring them but once they had been referred no other support was made easily available.

    Young people felt that they could not always approach teachers for support because different pupils may only feel confident speaking to a particular teacher depending on individual relationships. They felt concerned about the work load of teachers and felt ‘guilty’ about approaching a teacher and taking up their time. They felt that there was minimal time to speak to teachers about mental health issues as they are always preparing for classes so there are only short periods of opportunity at break and lunch times to sit down and chat to a trusted teacher.

    It was suggested that smaller class sizes and more teachers would give teachers “more time to build rapport and trust” with pupils and this could lead to an increase in young people feeling able and confident to speak to teacher when they felt they need mental health support.

    The group also thought that PSE lessons were undervalued and teachers are not trained to support mental health issues. They felt that PSE lessons could be a space to learn about mental health resilience and provide a space to open up about issues with peers and provide young people with the tools to cope with mental health challenges and be informed about how to ask for support.

    The group also thought that guidance teaching should be valued more and should be seen as a viable career option for teachers, and “not a stepping stone to becoming a head teacher.”
  • Posted by FiBri December 13, 2018 at 12:37

    I think basic psychotherapy principles should be taught as part of the curriculum from a very young age. Things like emotional intelligence and CBT, delivered in an age-appropriate fashion, can help children to understand their emotions and have a better grasp on how to process them and respond in a healthy fashion. Often people receiving CBT as adults find it groundbreaking, but it shouldn't be stuff we only hear about if/when we suffer from mental ill health.
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