With the rapid rise of social media over the past five years, along with the constant changing of exam boundaries, the announcement today by teenage mental health charity Stem4 that ‘seventy-nine percent of children as young as 12 experience emotional distress after starting secondary school’ sadly did not come as much of a surprise.
Children starting secondary school have fears of being accepted and making friends, which are generally, fairly common worries, but a large percentage now worry about being bullied by fellow classmates and older pupils, in person and through social media. These worries, along with stresses over workloads, exams, and other issues, create a toxic environment in which children suffer and struggle to cope.
Stem4 found that four in five 12 to 16 year old’s surveyed said they believed they suffered from mental health issues, but that only one out of twenty would turn to a teacher for help. The reason for this being that teenagers feel like teachers do not have the appropriate training or skills to help them.
The survey comes two months after the Prime Minister announced plans to introduce mental health first aid training, along with a major review of child and adolescent mental health services, in an attempt to help improve schools abilities to assist children with mental health issues.
Whilst this is a step in the right direction, there are still concerns that training teachers will not be enough, as according to Stem4’s survey, one in five children would rather see a mental health professional, than a teacher with basic training.
I heard from Mr. M Jukes, head of pastoral at Harrow High School about his thoughts on the new initiative and how the school are doing their best to assist pupils with their limited training and knowledge.
(Audio recorded by James Dyson, edited for clarity and conciseness)
(Photographs taken by James Dyson)