NHS data showed that in 2018 one in eight people under the age of 19 in England have had at least one mental health disorder. In recent years there has been a rise in the amount of pressure on young people from social media, expectations, exams and increasing time spent online. This issue is not just something that impacts young people in education. The 2018 Teacher Wellbeing Index showed that 67% of education professionals are also stressed and 57% are even considering leaving education due to health concerns.
Sadly, these issues continue into Higher Education with nearly 5 times as many students as 10 years ago having told their university about a mental health condition (Source: The Institute of Public Policy). 94% of UK Higher Education providers had said that they experienced a rise in demand for counselling services in the past 5 years. The impact of this rise in mental health issues has meant that the number of students dropping out of university has more than trebled in the last few years.
What to consider when looking at mental wellbeing in your school or organisation
Mentally Health Schools, a legacy project from Heads Together, suggest schools consider their school culture and environment by asking the following questions:
- Is the workplace a positive environment for staff? Is there a dedicated space where they can go and take time out? Is it appealing and looked after? Are there any low cost ways to promote wellbeing and make staff feel valued (e.g. acknowledging good work, having fruit in the staffroom, bringing in treats to thank staff or for inset days)?
- Does the SLT model good working practices and self-care to encourage an appropriate work-life balance? Encouraging staff to take breaks, for example, finishing on time, having regular debriefs or supervision from colleagues or line managers when dealing with difficult situations.
- Is there a culture of clear communication about workplace wellbeing?
- Do staff feel able to talk about concerns?
- Do all members of the SLT have an open-door policy and do staff know they can discuss anything with them?
- How are staff consulted about change and involved in developing problem-solving strategies? A regular staff wellbeing survey, for example, could help to generate feedback and ideas.
- Does the school communication style help engage staff and build good staff relationships? Is there a staff champion for wellbeing?
Practical ways to help
We have been working with an organisation to provide a platform to check how students and staff are doing via a monthly questionnaire.
Our platform gives students and staff a place to voice any issues they may be having.
Working with the charity, Mind, we wrote questions that promote high response rates on key topics, and you will be surprised how honest people are on their devices. With our platform, your designated Wellbeing Officer can see exactly who has answered negatively or flagged up any issues that require urgent attention. If this might be of interest, or you would just like to talk about mental wellbeing in your organisation, please get in touch.