SCHOOLS must do more to help pupils with their mental health, campaigners say, after surveying education leaders and youngsters.

Schools should have regular talks on mental health and increase training and resources for schools, Oxford Mental Health Forum said.

More printed material is needed for pupils and counselling should be available throughout the county, it added.

The forum’s online survey received responses from 15 schools, 300 youngsters aged 16 to 25, 44 professionals and 21 parents or carers.

It found all schools offered pastoral guidance and advice with 88 per cent able to provide one-to-one counselling.

But 35 per cent provide printed material and 24 per cent host sessions outside school hours for carers and parents.

And only 18 per cent had been visited by mental health groups such as Mind or The Samaritans.

Workers dealing with pupils, such as teachers and GPs, said the most common problems were depression, anxiety, bullying, stress, anger and relationship issues.

One pupil told researchers: “When I was at school I felt very alone. Stories from those with experience, and how they got help, would have been invaluable.”

The report said: “Overall, schools feel they do not have enough resources to be able to provide appropriate information and support to young people on mental health.”

It urged the NHS to provide cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and practical ways that focus on changing thinking patterns.

Sue Croft, principal of Oxford Spires Academy, East Oxford, said: “I think schools could do with more help.

“Mental health is a really serious barrier to a small but very significant group of students who don’t sufficiently progress as a result.”

She praised last month’s introduction of school nurses for each school from 9am to 3pm each day.

She added: “It is a massive shift in the right direction.

“It is one of the best investments anybody has had in terms of mental health.”

The report also found 16 per cent of youngsters had not or were not sure if they had been given information on mental health and 70 per cent of parents and carers had worries about their child’s mental health.

It also calls for more awareness of a guide to services by Oxfordshire Mind and better waiting times.

Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust, the county’s mental health authority, said it had seen a “significant increase” of 12 per cent in demand for primary child and adolescent mental health services. Clinical director Dr Wendy Woodhouse said: “We are concerned that the young people felt that access to our mental health services was at times difficult.”

Sarah Breton, lead commiss-ioner for children, young people and maternity services at Oxfordshire County Council and Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “ We worked closely with the authors of this report and welcome its findings.

“Good emotional support for young people in schools is very important and we – the authority and NHS – are committed to ensuring information and help is easily available, up-to-date and meets the needs of young people across the county.”



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