Mental health is increasingly on the agenda for policy makers and health practitioners, but one group of society seems to be at an ever increasing risk of developing mental health problems, students.
University Mental Health Day provides an opportunity to reflect on action being taken up and down the country, to tackle the issue, and with some universities experiencing as many as 11 student suicides in 2 years, today’s day of awareness may be an apt time to consider if enough is being done to protect vulnerable university students.
This year’s University Mental Health Day campaign is focused on highlighting the power of using your voice. Whilst the stigma around mental health is beginning to be addressed, students still report finding it difficult to ask for help. While the number of students seeking support with mental health has increased by more than 27,000 in five years, the numbers of students who actually receive timely help from their universities in unknown, with many students recalling long waiting lists and significant delays.
Alerting parents or guardians can be difficult for those struggling with mental health, but a new scheme launched by the University of Bristol aims to tackle this, by introducing an opt-in scheme to students. Allowing them to authorise a member of staff to contact a chosen next of kin, in the event of a serious health issue. The scheme has had a positive initial response, with thousands of students signing up, suggesting both its popularity, and student’s desire to see a need met. But with academic staff taking on a bigger role in the wellbeing of students, ensuring they are fully training, and supported, is paramount.
With nearly 150 university students in the UK committing suicide in 2016, it’s clear that the support isn’t quite right, however acknowledging that change is needed is just the first step, and campaigns like University Mental Health Day, can hopefully go some way to increasing awareness and improving support.
If you’d like to find out more, why not take our Mental Health training course, which covers everything from symptoms and causes, to treatments.
The figures above come from a report published by the independent think-tank, the Education Policy Institute (EPI)
One clear knock-on effect is that teachers are increasingly being called on to care for young people in extreme distress. In many cases, they are being forced to do so without adequate training to back them up.
The Government’s 2018 Teacher Voice Omnibus Survey revealed that over 40% of teachers believed they lacked sufficient training to identify mental health issues in pupils. Two-thirds did not know how to help pupils access specialist support outside the school.
On average, three children in every classroom throughout the UK have a diagnosable mental health condition.
Despite the Department of Heath ploughing an extra £1,4 billion into children’s mental health, 24% of the Local Authorities who responded to the EPI admitted to having scrapped services related to the mental health and wellbeing of children over the last eight years.
This is why online training courses such as the Certificate in Mental Health & Wellbeing in Children & Young People are so valuable. It gives the knowledge teachers need in a time-saving format they can take whenever they want. And it is currently being offered at half price for World Mental Health Day.
According to Jo Hutchinson, EPI’s director of social mobility and vulnerable learners; “While we have seen a reduction in some of the longest waiting times, many children still face a lengthy period of time before they can receive any specialist treatment and the number of referrals into these stretched services is rising.”
Looking at some of the reasons given for rejections of mental health referrals seem alarming to the untrained eye –
Paul Whiteman, the general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said teachers were having to re-refer many children who were turned down.
Teachers need to be able to recognise the early stages of mental health conditions and act accordingly. Not only does early intervention dramatically improve mental health outcomes, a focus on emotional and mental wellbeing can help children to develop greater emotional resilience and a positive sense of self.
Wednesday 10th October is World Mental Health Day and this year’s theme is Young People and Mental Health in a Changing World.
Now is the time for all teaching staff to be supported and trained so they can understand the types of mental health conditions that they could come across and become confident that they can provide the mental health first aid their pupils need