Birmingham teachers tackle child anxiety

Teachers at Hallfield School in Edgbaston were, last week, educated on how to spot signs of anxiety and depression in their pupils.

The school invited parent and Cognitive Behaviour Therapist Raj Bassi to run a workshop on Mental Health to give staff an understanding of what mental health disorders are how they can work with children to develop a healthy mental health well-being.

This comes after a recent study by teachers union NASUWT (National Association Of Schoolmasters Union Of Women Teachers) highlighted that children as young as four are suffering from mental health problems such as panic attacks, anxiety and depression.

The survey found that 98% of teachers said they had come into contact with pupils who were experiencing mental health issues. They were most likely to be teenagers, but nearly a fifth (18%) of those surveyed by the union said they had been in contact with four to seven-year-olds showing mental health issues while more than a third (35%) had seen problems in youngsters aged seven to 11.

Raj pointed out: “A child’s mental health could be negatively impacted by a number of things. It could be down to pressure of exams or tests, family problems or even difficulty in making friends at school.

“Many young people don’t know how to deal with negative feelings so it tends to present itself through anger or crying.

“Some of the less obvious signs to look out for are children finding it hard to concentrate, not sleeping or eating, or having regular tummy aches or toilet problems.

“My aim with this workshop was to give the teachers at Hallfield an understanding of mental health disorders and how to support those children that do have mental health difficulties at the school, because unfortunately, this isn’t uncommon.”

The workshop was followed by a special assembly on ‘mindfulness’ the next morning for children in the Upper School where they learnt how to work on handling their emotions and remaining calm.

The Headmaster of Hallfield School, Richard Batchelor, said: “Our teachers and staff take duty of care to our children very seriously so we wanted to get Mrs Bassi in as soon as possible to give us training, in a sense, about the topic of mental health.

“We want our children to know that they’re not alone and it is OK to talk about whatever may be on their minds. The reality is we are on the front line with children everyday so we need to be able to spot the signs when they are feeling troubled. We have good relationships with them and want them to continue feeling comfortable approaching us.”