teacher 2More than two thirds of teachers don’t believe they have the appropriate training to help spot mental health issues in pupils, a new poll has found.

The research, by the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER), found that while 62% of those surveyed felt able to identify behaviour that could be linked to mental health issues, only 32% felt they received appropriate mental health training to identify problems in pupils. The NFER report suggests that these findings show that school staff are gaining knowledge on how to deal with mental health issues by other means than in-school training.

Of ways to support pupils’ mental health in schools, 60% of respondents favoured counselling services for pupils, while 52% said training staff on mental health and wellbeing was a useful strategy. Strong engagement with families and young people was cited by 29% of respondents.

In comparison, when asked what strategies were already being provided by schools to support pupils’ mental health, training for staff on mental health and wellbeing did not feature. The main three strategies in schools according to the respondents were: counselling for pupils (62%), strong engagement of families and young people (42%) and teaching age-appropriate lessons about mental health (29%). 

Lucie Russell, director of media and campaigns at mental health charity YoungMinds, said that teachers are left feeling helpless with the increasing need for mental health support. “It is vitally important that teachers know the warning signs of emerging mental health issues, so that they can look out for any changes in their pupils, and act on any concerns they have,” she said.