Children’s Mental Health Week opens with Duchess’s message….reports Asian Lite News
The Children’s Mental Health week launched with the realisation that most primary pupils are unable to get help from counsellors at school, as only a third of primary schools have an on-site counsellor. This is the case despite one in five children experiencing mental health problems before they reach the age of 11.
The figures, based on a survey of almost 1,500 primary head teachers, were released by children’s charity Place2Be and the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) on the occasion of the Children’s Mental Health week.
The occasion was marked by the release of a video message by the Duchess of Cambridge who is a patron of Place2Be. In the message, the Duchess said that both she and her husband Prince William, felt strongly that ‘every child deserved to be supported through difficult times in their lives.’ She emphasised the need for emotional support in the childhood for a happy healthy future every child deserved.
According to the research, nearly four in five schools (78%) cite financial constraints as a barrier to providing their pupils with adequate mental health services. More than half (53%) blame a shortage of services or qualified professionals.
Those schools with a large number of pupils eligible for free school meals were more likely to have invested in a school-based counsellor, with more than eight in ten of the schools with counsellors fully or partially funding them through pupil premium cash.
Catherine Roche, CEO of Place2Be was quoted as saying that the primary school leaders are well aware of the challenges their pupils faced, “whether it’s coping with parental separation, the illness or death of a loved one, or even witnessing domestic violence or substance misuse at home.
She also added that teachers are not counsellors and schools needed professional support to make sure that problems in childhood don’t spiral into bigger mental health issues later in life. The Children’s Mental Health Week this year focuses on the benefits of building children’s resilience as a key life skill to help cope with life’s difficult situations, both in childhood and into adult years.
In March 2015, the Department for Education had published guidance to help school leaders set up and improve counselling services in schools. Up to 85% of secondary schools in the UK provide pupils with access to a counsellor but data on the number of primaries doing so has not previously been available.
Place2Be provides emotional and therapeutic services in 257 primary and secondary schools, helping them to cope with issues such as bullying, bereavement, domestic violence and neglect.