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MENTAL HEALTH RATED AS BIGGEST CONCERN FOR SCHOOLS

 

*Nearly four in five schools rated mental health as having the biggest impact on their organisation in the last year

*Almost three quarters (73%) of school leaders expect mental health and wellbeing to continue to be one of the biggest challenges over the next five years

*Zurich Municipal report reveals the biggest challenges facing public and voluntary sector organisations and their future concerns

*The insurer is currently working with Fika, a mental fitness learning and skills development partner, to address mental health in education

 

Nearly four in five school leaders say mental health and wellbeing was the biggest challenge for their organisation in the last year, according to a new report, which highlights the scale of the mental health crisis facing schools.   

 

The study by specialist insurer, Zurich Municipal and YouGov, revealed that for 78% of senior decision makers in primary and secondary schools, mental health and wellbeing had a “very big” or “substantial impact” on their organisation in the last 12 months – the highest out of seven challenges facing the sector. This was markedly higher than the average of 60% when looking at all public and third sector organisations surveyed.

 

The research went on to reveal future drivers of change and concerns, and predicts mental health will continue to have a major impact in schools. Nearly three quarters (73%) of school leaders expect mental health and wellbeing to continue to be one of the main challenges over the next five years – ranking second out of seven factors. However, it is issues related to funding and government policy that will become the primary worry in the future, with 85% of school leaders believing this will impact them the most.

 

In its study – The Future of the public and voluntary sectors – Zurich Municipal explored the general sentiment about the future of the public and voluntary sectors; views on current and future drivers of change and their relative impact; and future challenges and opportunities.  

 

Across all respondents, the study found the impact of mental health and wellbeing was most keenly felt in schools, followed by further and higher education establishments (71%) and charities (53%).  But while mental health and wellbeing had the greatest impact, primary and secondary school leaders also cited funding and government policy and the changing nature of work as having had a significant bearing on them in the last year – 71% and 63%.

 

Zurich’s findings come as a recent report by the charity, Education Support, found 77% of school staff are stressed (rising to 84% of senior leaders) and that over a third (38%) of education staff had experienced a mental health issue in the past academic year. 

 

Alix Bedford, Risk Proposition Manager, Zurich Municipal comments: “Working in the school environment has always been high pressured, but for nearly two years now, education staff have experienced an ongoing situation of unpredictability and stress. It is understandable that this would have a huge impact on mental health and wellbeing.  There are also concerns over the adverse impact of the pandemic on pupils, adding to the other issues already affecting young people’s mental health.

 

“Schools have a duty of care for the mental health and wellbeing of their staff and students. Awareness and understanding of the scope of this issue is rapidly evolving, but the policies, strategies and actions needed to respond must evolve rapidly too. If left unchecked, this risk could dwarf some others.”

 

Zurich Municipal is currently working with Fika, a mental fitness learning and skills development partner, to address mental health in education and offer training.  The three-month pilot, running until March, is part of Zurich’s aim to help schools protect their people as well as their property.   

 

Dr Amanda McNamee, Senior Mental Fitness Scientist at Fika said: “The state of declining mental health in education presents a risk in academic performance and stress to learners and burnout amongst staff. Current approaches pose a significant risk by reacting to declining mental health instead of preventing it. Fika has set out to mitigate the risk of decline and improve performance through a formal, proactive education-for-all solution and online mental fitness training tool.”

 

Fig 1. Issues that have had a big or significant impact schools in the last 12 months

 

Challenge Primary / Secondary Education Average across public and third sector
Mental health and wellbeing 78% 60%
Funding and fiscal policy 71% 67%
The changing nature of work e.g. hybrid working and workforce challenges 63% 68%
Changing community expectations and needs 62% 57%
Digital, data and automation 50% 52%
Changing organisational structures 39% 40%
Adapting to climate change 10% 18%

 

 

Fig.2 Issues that are predicted to have a big or significant impact schools  in the next five years

 

Challenge Primary / Secondary Education Across pubic and third sector
Funding and fiscal policy 85% 78%
Mental health and wellbeing 73% 57%
Changing community expectations and needs 58% 63%
Digital, data and automation 48% 56%
Changing organisational structures 44% 43%
 The changing nature of work (e.g. hybrid working and workforce challenges) 33% 55%
Adapting to climate change 21% 34%

150 inspirational Ambassadors have joined the British Inspiration Trust (BRIT) to support and improve young adult mental health and fitness throughout the UK with this year’s BRIT Challenge

The British Inspiration Trust (BRIT) continue to deliver their annual feelgood February fundraiser with three aims;

 

  • Support student mental health, fitness & wellbeing and reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness
  • Deliver inspiration to young adults, and destigmatise mental health, with the support of BRIT Ambassadors
  • Raise vital funds for local, regional and national charities

 

Registration is now open for the BRIT Challenge, taking place between 1st February and 3rd March 2022 (University Mental Health Day), and every UK university, college, specialist college and Students’ Union are urged to embrace the Challenge, enter teams and invite their students and staff to participate.

 

Many charities have felt the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.  As a collaborative charity, BRIT are inviting every university and college team taking part in the BRIT Challenge to choose a second charity to raise funds for, alongside BRIT, to support local, regional and national charities. Over the past two years, almost 180 university and college teams have taken on BRIT Challenges.

 

BRIT are striving to unite the education, sport and charity sectors and a wealth of governing bodies are supporting the BRIT Challenge including Universities UK, the Association of Colleges, Colleges Scotland, Colleges Wales and the National Union of Students.

 

Olympians, Paralympians, Sports Personalities, Adventurers and Explorers continue to join the BRIT Ambassador family and support young adult mental health. BRIT Ambassadors promote the BRIT Challenge at a university and/or college of their choice, encourage student participation, share their lived experience to destigmatise mental health and champion equality, diversity and inclusion. The BRIT Ambassador family is being supported by a whole host of inspirational sports personalities including Dame Kelly Holmes and Sir Steve Redgrave.

 

The BRIT Challenge is inclusive and enables students and staff of all abilities to take part and work as a team to cover the 2,022 mile distance by either hand-cycling, cycling, wheelchair pushing, swimming, walking, jogging, running, rowing or paddling (canoeing, kayaking or paddle-boarding). 

 

University and college teams have the flexibility to decide how they take on the BRIT Challenge; sharing the 2,022 mile distance between campuses, departments, Students’ Union sports teams and societies; involving 2,022 students and staff; challenging other universities and colleges; involving their communities and setting £2,022 fundraising targets.

 

At a time when young adult and student mental health has been further impacted by the pandemic, the BRIT Challenge is fast becoming an inspiring annual UK-wide event supported by the education, sport and charity sectors.

 

www.BritishInspirationTrust.org.uk

Media enquiries – Press@BritishInspirationTrust.org.uk

Twitter and Instagram @BRIT_Challenge

 

QUOTES OF SUPPORT

“It has been my pleasure to support BRIT for many years as they have strived to support young adult mental health throughout the UK, raise vital funds and deliver inclusive opportunities for young adults to improve their mental health and fitness.  

Supporting young adult mental health has never been so important and I applaud BRIT for delivering the annual BRIT Challenge and their visionary approach to collaborate with education and sport governing bodies and organisations.

This Call to Action goes out to all current and former Olympic and Paralympic Athletes and Sports Personalities; I urge athletes from every sport to join the BRIT Ambassador family. By uniting, we can ensure that every UK university, college and specialist college has a champion to inspire as many of their students and staff as possible to take part in the BRIT Challenge, destigmatise mental health and promote inclusivity.”

Sir Steve Redgrave CBE

_____

“The BRIT ethos is to be a collaborative charity. As many charities have felt the impact of COVID-19 on their fundraising efforts, I hope the BRIT Challenge inspires UK universities, colleges, specialist colleges and Students’ Unions to enter teams and choose a second charity to raise funds for, alongside BRIT, to support local, regional and national charities.

We have adopted a collectively powerful approach to supporting young adult mental health by forging special relationships and partnerships with charities and national governing bodies in the education and sport sectors. Thank you so much to everyone who has supported BRIT and enabled us to grow as a charity and continue to have a positive impact on the lives of young adults and students throughout the UK.

 

I am also sincerely grateful to the 150 Olympians, Paralympians, Sports Personalities, Adventurers and Explorers, who have joined our BRIT Ambassador family this year. They have united in promoting the BRIT Challenge, supporting universities and colleges of their choice, encouraging students of all abilities to take part, destigmatising mental health and championing equality, diversity and inclusion.”

 

Phil Packer

Founder and Non-Paid Chief Executive

_____

 

“The delivery of the annual BRIT Challenge is close to my heart having lost my closest friend to suicide and having seen the challenges faced by people of all ages struggling with poor mental health.  All of us will be affected by emotional wellbeing challenges at some point in our lives.  I encourage athletes from every sport to unite and join the BRIT Ambassador family. By visiting a university or college of their choice during February and sharing their lived experience, BRIT Ambassadors will inspire teams to participate, champion inclusivity, help destigmatise mental health and it is also a super opportunity to share what our sports have to offer with students.

 

It’s great to see that the BRIT Challenge is inclusive so that students and staff of all abilities are able participate in many different ways. I wish every university, college and specialist college team the very best of luck with their distance and fundraising efforts. I hope the BRIT Challenge will also help make conversations about our mental health easier and that young people realise they are not alone.”

 

Helene Raynsford

Paralympic Gold medallist

_____

 

“Young adults struggling with mental health difficulties are highly likely to be even more vulnerable due to the COVID-19 crisis and the BRIT Challenge is an inspiring opportunity for students at every  university, college and specialist college to be part of a UK-wide feelgood February fundraising challenge to both raise vital funds for charities and improve their mental health and fitness. 

 

I know there are hundreds of current and retired Olympians, Paralympians, Sporting Personalities, Adventurers and Explorers who understand the challenges of mental health. By joining our BRIT Ambassador family, championing the BRIT Challenge and sharing their lived experience at a university or college of their choice, they will have an extraordinary impact on supporting and improving student mental health and fitness.  There are over 450 universities and colleges in the UK, so we need a collectively powerful team effort from athletes from every sport to come forward and ensure every institution has a BRIT Ambassador to help increase participation, promote inclusivity and destigmatise mental health.”

 

Sally Gunnell OBE DL

Olympic, World, European and Commonwealth Gold Medallist

_____

 

“With a deep understanding of mental health challenges in my own life, and through the work of the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust, I know that there are vast number of young adults and students who are living with mental health challenges. I have known BRIT’s Founder, Phil, for many years now and his vision to support young adult mental health resonates with me both personally and professionally.

 

It has been a pleasure to support BRIT over the past 10 years, as they have strived to help improve young adult mental health and fitness throughout the UK. I am delighted that the annual BRIT Challenge has been designed to be inclusive so that students and staff of all abilities can take part in many different ways. The BRIT Challenge is a great opportunity for universities, colleges, Students’ Unions and students to enter teams, raise vital funds for local, regional and national charities, and embrace an annual feelgood February fundraiser that promotes mental wellbeing and inclusivity.

 

Colonel Dame Kelly Holmes MBE (mil)

Double Olympic gold medallist

_____

 

“BRIT exists to support and improve young adult mental health, as well as to unite the education, sport and charity sectors. I know Students’ Unions and students have amazing energy, enthusiasm and determination when it comes to raising funds for great causes, and it is infectious which is why I love supporting BRIT year on year. 

 

The annual BRIT Challenge is a feel-good February fundraiser that enables students to choose a second charity to raise funds for, alongside BRIT, and take part wherever they are; on campus or at home, in whatever way they choose.  It’s a great way to improve mental health and fitness, to raise vital funds and to HAVE FUN!

 

I hope every UK university, college and specialist college will embrace the BRIT Challenge, making it a firm fixture in their annual Calendar of Events.  If every institution enters just one team or several teams, the potential impact the BRIT Challenge could have on both improving and destigmatising mental health throughout the UK is mind blowing.”

 

Naomi Riches MBE

Paralympic Gold Medallist                                             _____

Two in five (40%) of teachers have experienced excessive stress at work over the last year

11% have suffered from mental health issues other than stress over the last year, causing many to rely upon drinking or smoking to cope 

According to a new survey, 40% of teachers in the UK have reported feelings of excessive stress this year with a further 19% highlighting a lack of support from their employers.

18.5% of teachers have taken sick days off work for mental health reasons as a result, with findings showing more than one in five respondents relapsing into smoking over the last year. 

Teachers have faced unique challenges during the pandemic: struggling to engage younger children with remote learning, teaching students with inadequate IT equipment and teaching while taking care of their own children at home.

Being in close contact with so many children, who sometimes don’t understand social distancing or proper handwashing, means they are at greater risk of contracting Covid-19 than the majority of people. This pressure is beginning to pile on the industry, causing concerns that a staff shortage will place extra strain on the sector.

Inadequate support

Two in five teachers have experienced excessive stress at work over the last year. (19%) felt their employers didn’t provide the support they needed.

(7%) of workers in the industry have taken statutory sick days or unpaid leave due to mental health issues, this is more than half the number of those that took unpaid leave due to further mental health issues.

The 2021 Stress and Mental Health study asked teachers working for 67 schools in the UK about their experience of stress and mental health issues in the workplace, the cause of excessive stress in their role and the impacts on life outside of work.

Sarah Whittaker, Assistant Headteacher at Haydon Abbey School in Aylesbury, said:

“Teachers are generally feeling overwhelmed. Not with teaching itself, but with the data, paperwork and pressure that comes with it. Many schools, including mine, do everything in their power to reduce workload and stress levels within their schools. Yet, no matter what policies and procedures you have in place to support this and staff, the pressure often comes from above. The government and education sector put a lot of pressure on the school system and unfortunately, this affects the people on the ground in many ways including stress levels being heightened. Policies from schools which include making marking more manageable and planning lessons that are still engaging but limit workload help support staff members and teachers, but often the government focuses on figures and progress and not so much on the positive, engaging and safe environment a school provides, particularly after such a turbulent few years. The figures are not surprising! Ofsted is starting to realise this and have adapted their guidelines for inspections now but is this maybe too little too late for some within the industry”.

Impacts of excessive stress 

33% of teachers impacted by excessive stress were struggling to pay their bills – citing low pay in the industry as a contributing factor. Meanwhile, a quarter (25%) were struggling to cope with their ‘unmanageable’ workload.

For 23%, lack of support and bad management left employees feeling excessive levels of stress. 

Richard Holmes, Director of Wellbeing at Westfield Health, says: 

“Burnout is a state of emotional, physical and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. Pressure at work is usually the main culprit and when budgets are tight and teams are small, people often find themselves with multiple roles and heavy workloads, piling on the stress.

Policies like turning off email servers outside of working hours help ring-fence valuable recovery time. Mental health first aid training can also help managers spot the signs or triggers and put preventions in place.”

450 UK Primary Schools Begin ‘I Can’t To I Can’ Mental Wellbeing Challenge Ahead Of Anti-Bullying Week

  • 450 UK schools start I Can’t to I Can mental wellbeing challenge on 8th November to build self-confidence, resilience and self-esteem mental ahead of Anti-Bullying Week
  • The 5-day Challenge was created as a response to anxiety pandemic amongst young people during these uncertain times
  • Half of all mental health conditions present themselves by the time a child reaches 14 but most cases remain undetected and untreated
  • I Can’t to I Can provides teachers with resources to teach simple brain hacks that can last a lifetime and turn around a child’s negative thinking within a week

 

The ongoing pandemic, concerns about climate change along with the endless horrific news headlines are enough for any young person to deal with. Add into the mix the normal issues of growing up magnified through the lens of social media and it’s no wonder that young people are 50% more likely to have a mental health problem than they were three years ago. 

 

As of 8th November, around 500 primary schools in the UK will be taking part in the RTT 5-Day ‘I Can’t to I Can’ mental wellbeing challenge. The aim is to provide children aged 7 – 10 with a series of mind hacks to help build confidence, self-esteem and resilience.  This will give them the mental stamina to cope with these challenging times and skills to support them throughout their life if they learn to practice them daily.

 

Available online, the free resource is based around the RTT concept of the inner cheerleader. Everyone is born with an inner cheerleader – without that driving force babies would give up after taking their first, unsuccessful attempt at anything. Sadly, the inner critic can kick in as young as 5 which is why the skills taught in ‘I Can’t to I Can’ are so critical yet take just a week to instil positive new approaches in children aged 7 to 10. 

 

Commenting on the challenge, Dr Sian Peer, therapist and Director of the RTT School said:

 

‘As a parent myself, I know how crippling anxiety can be for a young child. We wanted to share some of the incredible mental wellbeing tools that are the cornerstones of RTT to help primary school children understand and manage their emotions. The 5 Day Challenge provides teachers with a daily lesson plan over a week, each building on the learning from the previous day. There are videos, fun exercises and ideas to do at home making the whole experience interactive and memorable.’

 

Although most schools will participate in the challenge during the week of 8th November, the resources are going to be accessible to schools on an ongoing basis.

 

Schools interested can visit www.rtt.com/method

“School holidays feel no different to lockdown”

Young people worried about loneliness this summer, finds mental health charity, Mind

 

The start of the summer holiday could feel like another lockdown for many young people with mental health problems, says leading mental health charity, Mind. As schools break up for the summer holidays, there are increasing concerns over loneliness in young people, particularly those with mental health problems.

 

Mind’s latest report into the ongoing impact of the coronavirus pandemic on people with mental health problems across England and Wales has recently revealed that, among young people with mental health problems:

  • Nine in ten (88 per cent) told us loneliness made their mental health worse
  • Almost one in two (48 per cent) have not felt close to people recently
  • Two thirds (65%) of adults and more than two thirds (68%) of young people with mental health problems say their mental health has got worse since the first national lockdown. Nearly half (46%) of those adults and over half (51%) of those young people said that their mental health has got much worse since the beginning of the first national lockdown in March 2020

 

Louise Clarkson, Strategic Lead for Young People at Mind, said:

 

“Many of us often associate loneliness with older people, but we’ve also seen how it’s hit young people’s mental health hard too. Our report revealed that young people, who have struggled with their mental health through the pandemic, are more likely to be using coping strategies, like self-harm, than adults. Many young people have also told us how much they dread the summer holidays as they miss the social interaction with teachers and friends.

 

“At Mind, we’re determined to get young people the support they need, and most recently, we’ve called on the UK Government to invest in initiatives – such as #fundthehubs – which would provide young people somewhere to go when they first start to struggle with their mental health. We also urge anyone who is struggling with their mental health to seek support from their GP or speak to loved ones.”

 

Elsa is 19 and lives in Redbridge, East London. She began to experience depression and anxiety from around the age of 14, but didn’t feel supported at school. She said:

 

“The lack of resources available to my school meant the support wasn’t there. This was a huge factor in my mental health continuing to deteriorate until it became so bad and I needed help so desperately that we went through private counselling. I felt constantly misunderstood and didn’t get the support I needed. I am now really passionate about seeing a change in the way young people’s mental health is approached in schools.

 

“All staff need more resources and training to be better equipped to support students and create safe environments for everyone. I think this would make a huge difference to preventing mental health problems occurring and deteriorating. No young person should be left to reach a crisis point before people start listening or making the effort to understand. Better support within the education system would make a huge difference by catching problems earlier and giving the space for young people to feel listened to and empowered, something I rarely felt at school. Better support at school would have changed my whole mental health story as a teenager.”

 

Lily is 22, and lives in Southend, Essex. She studied at the University of Cambridge and has recently qualified as a teacher. She said:

 

“I think mental health support within schools is so important, especially given the impact the pandemic has had on young people. Pupils have faced both disruption to schooling, and the mental health effects of lockdowns and reduced social interaction, or even damaged relationships. I’m saddened but not shocked that Mind’s research found so many schoolchildren are worried about feeling lonely over the summer holidays. Our summer holidays, which would previously have been a period spent seeing friends and relaxing after the stresses and demands of term-time are over, could actually be a source of anxiety for many. It’s likely many teachers will be feeling that way too. Making sure well-funded services are available to young people is vital, and this should happen all year round, even – or especially – when schools are closed.”

 

Around 44 per cent of young people with mental health problems said they rarely or don’t ever feel optimistic, about the future, with one young person in the report saying “I really badly miss school. I hate the school holidays because they feel no different than lockdown to me. During the school holidays, I cry nearly every day and doing things like brushing my hair feels difficult. I just feel so lonely and crave any social interaction possible with my teachers and my friends.”

 

The charity is also concerned about how young people who struggle with their mental health were more likely to be using coping strategies, like self-harm, over or under-eating. Mind’s report also found that young people were coping by sleeping too much or too little (77 per cent of young people compared to 61 per of adults) and spending too much time on social media (73 per cent of young people compared to 49 per cent of adults).

 

Mind has produced information and support for young people to help them cope with mental health problems during the summer holidays and as restrictions ease. Here are some of their top tips:

 

  1. Keep talking and connecting with people – speak to loved ones or health professionals about how you are feeling. The more you open up, the more you realise you are not alone.
  2. Do things at your own pace – it’s OK to say ‘no’ to socialising if you need to and prioritise your own health and mental wellbeing.
  3. Try not to compare yourself to others – do what makes you happy. Happiness looks and feels different to everyone, so don’t worry about what everyone else is doing.
  4. Limit your exposure to news and negative discussions – put your phone down and go outside – it’s a cliché but it works wonders.
  5. Write things down – journal and write down any positive thoughts.