Supporting Mental Health

What is Mental Health?

“Mental health is a state of well-being in which every individual realises his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stress of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make contribution to her or his community”. (World Health Organisation)


Young people with mental health issues:

  • Lack confidence.
  • Say that their mental health difficulties has a negative impact on their education.
  • Fear they will face discrimination from their peers and teachers
  • Face the barrier of stigma.


Research and Studies

A 2017 report by Children’s Commissioner for England found that 580,000 young people, equivalent of the population of Manchester, are receiving some form of social care or assistance with mental health problems.

A study, of more than 850,000 seven to 14-year-olds in the UK, asked children questions related to how they felt about themselves and school.


  • More than 1 in 20 children (6%) shown very poor attitudes towards their learning and have very low self-esteem, making them especially vulnerable.
  • Statistics show that 1 in 10 children- an average of 3 in every classroom- has a diagnosable mental health disorder.
  • Between 1 in every 12 and 1 between every 15 children and young people deliberately self-harm.
  • Nearly 80,000 children and young people suffer from severe depression.
  • 3.3% children and young people have an anxiety disorder.
  • 72% children in care have behavioural or emotional problems- these are some of the most vulnerable people in our society.
  • 50% of adult mental health problems start before the age 15, 75%- before the age 18.
  • Boys are just as likely to be vulnerable as girls.

Warning signs

Remember: only medical professional can make a formal diagnosis of a mental health condition


  • are well-placed to observe children day-to-day
  • identify students whose behaviour suggests that they may be suffering from a mental health problem/ be at risk of developing one

Where possible: schools to be aware of any GP’s support programs which may affect attendance and attainment (seek parents’ consent).


Possible warning signs include:

  • Physical signs: repeated which appear non- accidental
  • Changes in eating/sleeping habits
  • Social withdrawnness/isolation
  • Changes in activity and mood
  • Lowering of academic achievement, absence from school, lateness
  • Talking or joking about self-harm or suicide
  • Drug/alcohol abuse
  • Expressing feelings of failure, uselessness, loss of hope
  • Changes in clothing- e.g. long sleeves in warm weather
  • Secretive behaviour
  • Skipping PE, getting changed secretively
  • Repeated physical pain or nausea
  • Showing signs and symptoms of anxiety: when it affects young person’s thoughts and behaviours on a daily basis.



Obsessions and Compulsions (OCD)

Obsessions and Compulsions (OCD)

Eating problems: bulimia, binge eating

Spotting the signs of mental health issues (Action for Children)

A simple way to remember some of the signs and what to look out for if you’ve started feeling concerned about child’s mental health: M-A-S-K

M- Mood





A- Actions

-changes in eating- sudden weight loss or gain

-looking very tired- changes in sleeping patterns

-look out for signs of bullying, alcohol/drug use, self-harm

S- Social

– especially bored

– lonely

– start getting into trouble

– losing interest in things they liked to do

– missing school

K- Keep Talking

– refusing or being reluctant to talk how they feel

Your response should be to keep listening- let them say what they want to say – even a casual conversation can help- ask how they are feeling, ask about their day

It can be helpful to link young people to self-help information- they can read it and use it at their own pace/in their own time and will allow them some privacy


CAMHS- Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services


CAMHS are specialist NHS children and young people’s mental health services

They can offer a variety of trained mental health professionals:

-social workers       -occupational therapists       – psychologists

-psychotherapists     – counsellors     – family therapists        – outreach workers

Before making a referral- think what you want CAMHS to do, what are the reasons for the referral. There may be a significant delay before the student can be seen


  • You might be looking for: advice, strategies, support or diagnosis
  • What are the specific difficulties that you want CAMHS to address
  • Most CAMHS services work with the whole family to support young person’s health
  • Gather all the details about the student to be referred and gain consents
  • Are there any other agencies/professionals involved with the students and/or the family e.g. social services, youth offending team?
  • Have there been any referrals to CAMHS before?
  • Family background/situation at home/traumatic life events
  • Is there a child protection plan in place?
  • Is the child looked after?
  • Are there any known risks, to self, to others or to professionals?


CAMHS will always ask- “What have you tried?”

Be prepared to supply relevant evidence, records, list of interventions


Useful links:

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This
Skip to content