YoungMinds estimate that on average, three pupils in every UK classroom have a mental health problem. Teachers from across the borough attended an event to learn how to better deal with these in schools.
Figures in a government report show young people are affected disproportionately by mental health issues, with more than half of mental health problems in the UK starting by the age of 14 and 75% by the age of 18.
For this reason schools came together at a conference recently to share experiences and learn how to help pupils.
It included speeches from several different mental health campaigners, such as Jonny Benjamin, who is also a film producer and writer and makes YouTube videos on suffering from schizoaffective disorder. Jonny also appeared in a Channel 4 documentary which followed him on his global search to find the man who talked him out of jumping off Waterloo Bridge when at crisis point.
There were also a number of speakers from Time to Change, a charity that aims to change the way mental health is acted upon. The speakers explained their own experiences of bullying in school and how they would have benefited from different forms of support.
‘Teachers would often call me lazy’
The session included a presentation from Sam Barakat, a young champion for Time to Change, who described her own experiences to the listening teachers. She said: “Part of being depressed means that some days you find it hard to do menial tasks and, because of this, I had problems with my punctuality at school. Teachers would often call me lazy or think that I couldn’t be bothered.
“I really wish they would have taken some time to realise what depression was and talk to me about why I was late rather than assuming that I was lazy.”
Training sessions for schools
This event was held as a part of a range of training services that Ealing Council offers to schools – on subjects ranging from mental health to reducing obesity. Schools that are interested can view more information.
There are also free resources available on the Time to Change website for schools and pupils to learn about mental health.