British School System Addresses Mental Health Services Deficit

By Paul Gaita 01/07/15

Schools in England are struggling to identify and treat students suffering from mental health issues.


The nationwide survey, conducted by the CenterForum Mental Health Commission, discovered 54% of teachers felt their school’s mental health services were inadequate. The survey also showed that only 35% of schools are actively assessing their students’ mental health needs. While most of the country’s schools provide some form of mental health and well-being training to their staff, 47% of teachers said steadily increasing workloads are making it difficult to identify those students with mental health issues.

“With three children in every classroom experiencing mental health problems, teachers need the right training and support to identify issues early and to ensure that children and young people get the help they need to recover and thrive,” said MP Paul Burstow, the chairman of the CenterForum Mental Health Commission.

At $93,000 per child, per year, the lifelong financial impact of children suffering from mental illness is taxing to say the least, and Burstow says it’s “something we can’t afford to ignore.”

But Britain is working on reform, and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg MP has promised to address the results of the survey.

“Schools would never ignore a child with a physical health problem, so the same should be true of mental health too,” Clegg said. “Early intervention is crucial in tackling mental health problems, which is why school leaders have a major role to play.”

MP Norman Lamb, the Care and Support Minister, also plans to make sure the country’s young people get the mental help and support they need. “We’ve also invested $4,653,900 in MindEd, a website to help anyone working with children – from teachers to dinner ladies and sports coaches to Scouts' leaders – to makes sure children get the mental health support they need.”

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Paul Gaita lives in Los Angeles. He has contributed to the Los Angeles Times, Variety, LA Weekly, and The Los Angeles Beat, among many other publications and websites.