Mental Health Problems are Affecting the Education of over 800,000 Children

The first stage in a programme of work on ‘vulnerable’ children has taken the form of a report by the Children’s Commissioner for England. This report has unveiled the shocking reality of over 800,000 children who are suffering from mental health problems in England alone.

The report groups this huge mental health disorder statistic alongside disability and special educational needs in ‘Vulnerability Type 3: Children with health-related vulnerabilities’. The number of children in this particular vulnerability group is alarming at 2.3 million.

Anne Longfield, the Children’s commissioner, states the purpose for this report on vulnerable children is to ‘pin down’ the group of children who may have issues which make it more difficult for them to be successful in life.

Being especially important in forming the foundation of a child’s knowledge, social skills and work ethic; a productive education is vital in ensuring that these vulnerable children are able to be successful in later life. This is reflected in education being the first domain of consideration in the report when investigating the outcomes of being a child in a ‘vulnerable’ group.

This report reveals that there are many more children with mental health disorders than might have been expected, and many of these children are suffering consequences for their mental health difficulties in the form of low attendance and higher rates of expulsion due to behavioural problems. It is therefore not surprising that children categorised as being in ‘vulnerability group 3’ experience lower levels of educational attainment and progression.

It is clear that these findings introduce a challenge to schools throughout England to effectively cater for these vulnerable children, ensuring the best educational environment for each individual’s academic improvement. Actions taken now by forward thinking schools will have multiple positive impacts: increasing work ethic, developing social skills, and eventually improving the exam results achieved by these ‘vulnerable’ pupils’, all of which will open up more opportunities for them in the future and ultimately enhance their lives.

When discussing the purpose of this vital programme of work into children’s vulnerability, Anne Longfield stated “We bother because we as a society need to know who these children are, how many they are, and what their different outcomes are, if we are to have any hope of beginning to address their needs.”

Now, with the knowledge that there are over 800,000 children with mental health issues, and with evidence of the negative outcomes in their education, it is time to take the steps to help these vulnerable children achieve to their highest ability.

Altruist Enterprises are experienced in providing Resilience and Mental Health Awareness training to pupils and staff in schools. To find out more, click here

Lara is a student intern at Altruist Enterprises and is currently studying Psychology at the University of Birmingham. She is exploring aspects of educational psychology and psychology in the workplace with particular interest in how mental wellbeing can enhance job performance and work ethic.

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