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School staff need specialist mental health training

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A charity has revealed that two thirds of teachers do not feel they have had adequate training

School staff should receive specialist training to provide mental health support for pupils.

A survey by the Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH) has revealed that two thirds of teachers don’t feel they have sufficient training to help children.

The charity has highlighted that one in three children in every classroom will experience difficulties with mental health, and has said that urgent action is needed.

“Improving the self-esteem, resilience and wellbeing of all our young people must be a priority if we want them to learn,” said SAMH chief executive Billy Watson.

“While we know that work on mental health training is underway as part of the mental health strategy, we think more needs to be done – at a quicker pace, and on a national level.

“The situation is urgent and school staff and pupils can’t wait any longer. It’s got to change. We want the Scottish Government to commit to establishing a national programme of mental health training that is consistent to meet the needs of school staff.”

The survey quizzed more than 3,000 school staff from across Scotland and SAMH has said it would like to see all workers receive training, with a whole-school approach needed to providing support.

Only 12% of teachers who responded felt they had adequate training in mental health, and only 1% could recall having detailed mental health training when they were students.

The findings were revealed at Wallace High School in Stirling, which has been working to provide specialist mental health support to pupils over the last two years.

Head teacher Scott Pennock said: “We have been working with See Me to train a number of staff as mental health first aiders; and utilising Scottish Attainment Challenge funding and dedicated resources to sustain a staff team that has adequate training to support with personalised issues in school day-to-day.

“Training staff has been key to ensuring that we have a staff group with the confidence and skills to support young people with mental health issues – essentially providing a front-line resource. It is vital, in our experience, in the modern world, to create a culture where young people feel they can talk about mental health, and where staff have the necessary training to provide support.”

Scottish mental health minister Maureen Watt said: "Education authorities and all those working in our schools have a responsibility to support and develop the mental wellbeing of pupils, with decisions on how to provide that support taken on the basis of local circumstances and needs.

"Some will provide access to school based counselling. Others will be supported by pastoral care staff and liaise with the educational psychological services, family and health services for specialist support when required."



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