Young Minds, a leading charity in the fight for young people’s mental health, has called for more support for teachers working with students who are believed to be self-harming
To coincide with Self-Harm Awareness Day (1 March), YoungMinds has called for greater support and training for teachers who may be working with young people who are encountering mental health challenges, specifically self-harm.
This call follows insights from more than 3,000 secondary school teachers who participated in a survey for YoungMinds. The outcome of this survey highlighted the major role teaching professionals can play, often as the first point of call for students who need mental health support. This assertion was reinforced by research from NHS Digital in 2018, concluding that 48% of young people had sought help from their teachers when struggling with their mental health – a higher figure than any for other professional.
However, as frontline responders for young people’s mental health, the YoungMind results also showed that while 84% of secondary school teachers have taught a student they believe self-harms, 77 % of secondary school teachers do not believe they have had sufficient training on children and young people’s mental health.
This data suggests there is a gap between need of students and the provision of specific mental health training and support for teaching professionals.
Emma Thomas, CEO of YoungMinds, said: “The vast majority of secondary school teachers have first-hand experience of teaching a child who is self-harming, but too often they haven’t had enough training or support to know how best to respond to their needs.
“The reasons why a young person may self-harm are multiple and complex, but it’s vital that when they reach out to someone about it, they are met with the best possible help and advice.
“We know that teachers do a great job of supporting young people in many instances, but it can also be hard to know what to say, when to take action or how to support someone.”
Nansi Ellis, Assistant General Secretary of National Education Union, said:"We know that more and more teachers are witnessing children and young people experience mental health problems and self-harm. Schools need to have appropriate support in order to respond appropriately and we welcome further resources for schools to help provide that.
"From 2020 we know that mental health and wellbeing will be a key part of the health education curriculum to further help schools respond to these issues."
YoungMinds have created a range of resources for teachers, to help them feel more confident in supporting a young person who may seek their help. These include videos, advice for having conversations around self-harm and information from young people who have lived experience of self-harm.
YoungMinds also offers training courses for teachers on self-harm and their 360° Schools’ Community offers advice and support to teachers about wellbeing and mental health.
More than 6,000 teachers and school staff have signed up to the community. YoungMinds is also currently campaigning for wellbeing to be made a priority in schools, and encouraging supporters to #TellOfsted why they think this is important.
If you are a teacher looking for resources and support, contact YoungMinds
If you are a young person looking for support for self-harm, you can visit The Mix, a free, confidential information and crisis support service for young people.
If you are looking for local counselling support, visit Counselling Directory.