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Children’s Mental Health Week: Monitoring Signs is Key

The theme for this year’s Children’s Mental Health Week is Let’s Connect – which is centred around the importance of meaningful connections both during Children’s Mental Health Week and beyond.  

In recent years there has been an unprecedented amount of change in educational settings including school closures, owing to the COVID-19 pandemic and teacher strikes, which have resulted in pupils not being able to access school-based learning for increased periods of time.  

As a result of the closures, pupils’ mental health and wellbeing has undoubtedly been impacted – in a survey conducted on the impact of COVID-19 on pupils, 74% of all teachers and school staff agreed that these closures had a detrimental impact on the health and wellbeing of young people.  

Schools are not only still feeling the lasting impact of the pandemic, but they’re also navigating the challenges of the UK’s biggest walkout in a decade, along with the current cost-of-living crisis, which is affecting families up and down the country.  

Now more than ever, Children’s Mental Health Week is a timely reminder of the imperative need for schools and other settings to track mental health and wellbeing-related concerns to ensure children get the support they need.  

Mental health is a growing challenge in schools  

According to an NHS digital report: Mental Health of Children and Young People in England, 2020, 1 in 6 children aged 5 to 16 in England are likely to have a mental health problem. Additionally, in the last three years, the likelihood of young people having a mental health disorder has increased by 50% and now, five children in a classroom of 30 are likely to have a mental health disorder – all of which suggests this is a growing trend.  

In 2022, a poll conducted on educational professionals and published by children’s mental health charity Place2Be and trade union NAHT, revealed that 95% of UK school staff witnessed increased levels of anxiety amongst pupils since the start of the school year. Of those surveyed, 86% noted an increase in low self-esteem, 76% had seen an increase in depression and 68% witnessed an increase in sustained feelings of anger.  

School staff also highlighted the wider impact of this on many aspects of school life and said it had negatively affected:  

  • Pupils’ ability to engage in learning (91%) 
  • Pupils’ behaviour (87%) 
  • Pupils’ progress (86%) 
  • Staff workload and capacity (91%) 
  • Staff wellbeing (89%) 

Children’s mental health remains a top priority in schools and is constantly raised as a topic of concern by teachers. Despite this, in the same survey, only 23% of staff said they had regularly been able to access specialist support for pupils with mental health needs, leaving many children and young people struggling to access support, in turn likely negatively impacting pupils’ ability to engage in learning.  

Children’s mental health is also a priority for parents; a YouGov survey conducted last year found that 62% of parents view pupil wellbeing as a serious consideration when choosing a secondary school for their child and 76% would like their child’s school to measure wellbeing

Given the wider impact that mental health can have on both school staff and pupil performance, and how schools address and support mental health can influence which schools parents send their children to, it is vital that schools invest in means to track and monitor signs or changes in mental health and wellbeing if they’re not already doing so. 

Spotting signs of mental health challenges early on  

As the theme for this year’s Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week is centred around making meaningful connections, it’s important for teachers and safeguarding leads to be aware of ways to spot signs that a child may not be making meaningful connections in school.  

Things to look out for include: 

  • Withdrawal from social circles and / or issues with other pupils 
  • Wanting to spend time alone  
  • Seem quiet or withdrawn, or are sad for no obvious reason 
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Becoming disruptive in class or feeling frustrated 
  • Low self-esteem or loss of confidence 
  • Seemingly very tired during school hours 

While it can feel challenging to constantly be on the lookout for signs of poor mental health and wellbeing in young people, logging even the smallest of concerns can help to spot patterns quickly and make prompt interventions.  

How CPOMS can help  

One way in which schools can play a part in supporting children with their mental health is by ensuring they have protocols and software like CPOMS in place to monitor, track and record the mental health and wellbeing of its pupils. CPOMS software allows schools to gather data which can help to not only identify the needs of students, but also ways to manage them.  

CPOMS allows school staff to note and monitor any changes in the behaviour and wellbeing of students – this data can help to spot trends more easily which can in turn help to enable quick action and identify any additional need for support.   

Given the challenges that schools are already facing, coupled with the increasing number of children requiring mental health support, it’s clear that spotting signs of any behavioural changes in children, and recording them so that early interventions can be made is needed.  

To find out more about how CPOMS software can be used to monitor the mental health and wellbeing of children in schools, get in touch with our team today

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