#SpeakYourMind: ‘Teachers need to be equipped’ to spot signs of mental health in children

Dean Johnstone, chief executive of Minds Ahead and joint leader of the centre of excellence in Leeds.
Dean Johnstone, chief executive of Minds Ahead and joint leader of the centre of excellence in Leeds.
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“Our teachers must be equipped to spot the signs of mental health issues of children in schools”.

That’s the message from leaders at Leeds’ National Centre of Excellence for Mental Health in Schools, who are working to bring schools up to date with the growing demand to support the wellbeing of children.

It comes after research revealed yesterday that more than half of primary school teachers feel they do not have adequate training in what to do when a child has mental health issues.

The national centre of excellence, which opened this year, is based at Leeds Beckett University.

Dean Johnstone, boss of social enterprise Minds Ahead and joint leader of the centre of excellence in Leeds, said: “We know that teachers are really needing support with this and the challenges we are seeing with children.

“The Government is starting to notice this as an issue but it takes time, and the children need support now.”

The latest rallying cry comes after the YEP launched our #SpeakYourMind campaign last year, to combat stigma.

The new research, by the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families, surveyed 330 primary school teachers, who agreed schools had a vital role to play in spotting pupils with mental health issues.

Mr Johnstone said teachers should get mandatory training in mental health to help them feel more confident.

He added: “What we need to do is help teachers and school staff so that they can feel equipped.”

The centre is currently working on creating the UK’s first masters qualification for school leadership of mental health and wellbeing.

Alex Newman, partner at Irwin Mitchell in Leeds

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