I beg to move,
That this House
has considered mental health and wellbeing in schools.
It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Stringer. I am delighted to have secured today’s debate on mental health and wellbeing in schools. I am sure that many hon. Members will know that I am a former teacher. My interest in this subject comes from the link between mental health and wellbeing and learning. I will come later to all sorts of issues surrounding children’s mental health and the lack of services out there, but I hope that today’s debate will focus on how this issue affects children, and indeed teachers, in schools.
Schools are not just places where we help students and children to learn resilience and the skills that they need to build themselves up so that they become adults who can cope with all sorts of pressures that are thrown at them; schools themselves can influence the mental health of children. Some of the debate so far has focused too much on the outside influences on children coming into school. Today I will focus on aspects of the current schooling system that exacerbate that problem.
Let us look at the scale of the issue. The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children says that the number of schools seeking help from mental health services is up by more than a third in the last three years. The number of referrals to NHS child and adolescent mental health services by schools seeking professional help for a student was 34,757 in 2017-18. That is the equivalent of 183 every school day. To say that this is anything other than a crisis would be wrong. We are facing a crisis of mental health issues in our schools.
The National Education Union further found that 49% of education staff said that secondary school pupils had been suicidal as a result of the stress that they were under, and more than half of professionals surveyed said that funding for support for pupils’ mental health in schools was inadequate.