Schools are struggling to access support to deal with a surge in the number of children and young people suffering from mental health issues.

Evidence given from teachers across the country suggests children as young as four are suffering from mental health problems such as panic attacks, eating disorders, anxiety and depression.

Responding to a survey for the NASUWT union, almost all teachers and school leaders (98 per cent) said they had come into contact with pupils who are experiencing mental health issues.

In spite of this, almost half said they had never received any training to help or recognise the signs in children who might be suffering from these problems.

Pupils affected were most likely to be teenagers, with 58 per cent of teachers saying they had seen problems in 15- to 16-year-olds and 55 per cent in 13- and 14-year-olds.

But nearly a fifth (18 per cent) of those polled said they had been in contact with four to seven-year-olds showing mental health issues, and over a third (35 per cent) had seen problems in children aged seven to 11.

The findings echo that of a separate study undertaken recently by the National Association of Head Teachers, in which more than half of school leaders said they had found it difficult to find a service or professional to help a child in need.

They survey, published by the National Association of HeadTeachers (NAHT) and Place2Be, a children’s mental health charity, found some 22 per cent of those who had sought mental health support for a pupil had been unsuccessful.

Common barriers towards getting help were a lack of capacity in services, no local services available and budget constraints, teachers found.

Barnardo’s children’s charity has called on the Government to commit to better training for teachers.

Commenting on the latest figures, Chief Executive Javed Khan 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.

– Rachael Pells

Read More: Four-year-olds suffering panic attacks, eating disorders, anxiety and depression, report says

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