Children as young as four-years-old are suffering from anxiety, panic attacks, depression, and other mental health issues. These are the findings of a recent survey done by the NASUWT union. The statistics are worrying, to say the least, and concerned teachers and school leaders are looking for answers and support.

What Does the Situation Look Like?

The statistics are quite dire. Ninety-eight per cent of teachers said that they know of a pupil that is experiencing mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. Fifty-eight per cent of the teachers said that the pupils they have encountered are between the ages of 15 and 16. Another 55% of teachers indicated that pupils between the ages of 13 and 14 were having mental health difficulties. Of those polled, 18% said that they knew of pupils in the 4 to 7 with anxiety and other mental health issues while another 35% reported on pupils aged 7 to 11.

What Can Schools Do About This Situation?

School leaders and other teachers have indicated that they do not have the necessary training to identify a child with mental health issues, nor do they have the skills to help and support such a child. The resources that are available to schools are very limited, and many teachers and school leaders have tried but have been unsuccessful in getting help for the affected pupil.

Javed Khan, Chief Executive of Barnardo’s children’s charity, said: “It’s vital that teachers get more support to help with their pupils’ mental health as it is one of the biggest issues our country is facing today. Barnardo’s wants the Government to commit to training all new and existing teachers to gain the skills to help children build resilience and promote good mental health. Evidence shows that vulnerable children and young people such as those leaving care, or victims of sexual exploitation are more likely to need mental health care than other children. They would stand a better chance of going on to live happy and healthy lives if they are given effective mental health education starting at primary school.”

What Effect Does This Have on The Pupil?

The teachers agree that having a mental health issue at school has a negative effect on the child. Firstly, it affects their concentration in the classroom. It also affects their ability to make friends, and they are often isolated from their peers because of their anxiety or other mental health issues.

What Can You Do If Your Child Is Affected?

If a teacher or school leader approaches you, as a parent, and reports that your child may be suffering from a mental health issue, the first thing that you need to do is acknowledge that there may be a problem. Many parents go into denial of their child’s problems due to a lack of information or a fear of stigmatisation. The best thing to do for your child is to take them to a professional for an assessment and then decide on the most appropriate course of action based on the outcome of this evaluation.

Recovery Lighthouse specialises in the treatment of anxiety and depression and will be happy to help and guide you through the diagnostic and treatment process. Our therapists and counsellors are trained and experienced in dealing with your particular needs and will be able to provide you and your child with a professional service to help both of you deal with the issues at hand.

Recovery Lighthouse has several inpatient clinics, as well as an outpatient support service that will provide you and your child with the support and services that you need as well as provide a support structure for your child’s teachers where necessary.

What Will the Treatment Entail?

The treatment for anxiety disorders is primarily cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), which involves several sessions of talking therapy focussed on the here and now. Anxiety can be treated very effectively with CBT, but there are also medications available to help your child deal with the symptoms of his/her anxiety. Over time, when the anxiety disorder is under control, these medications can be reduced or can even be taken away completely.

The sooner the condition is treated, the sooner the disorder will be controlled, and your child (and you) will live a happier, healthier life.