express.co.uk Sunday 4th August 2013
More than 80,000 schoolchildren in England are battling severe depression and it is feared the numbers will increase unless radical action is taken.
“We are simply storing up bigger and more expensive problems for the future,” says teacher Patricia Preece. “Schools are reporting that more children are struggling and not coping with stress.
“There’s a lot of pressure on students to achieve and there seems to be a lot at stake from an early age.
“Added to that is the pressure to belong which is largely driven by social media where image and appearance is judged publicly.
“The ludicrous thing is that previous generations lived under a real threat of nuclear war but were less worried about the future than the current generation.”
Patricia, an English teacher from London with 40 years experience, is also a trustee of Stem4, a charity which runs workshops and provides guidance for parents, teachers and schools.
Around one in 12 children aged five to 16 self-harms, a worrying 68 per cent increase over the past decade, according to YoungMinds, another charity which launched a campaign in July to protect and improve mental health related services for the young.
Depression among 15 to 16-yearolds has doubled since the Eighties yet even as demand increases, 34 of 51 local authorities have reduced their mental health help for young people.
Patricia said some teachers get just two hours instruction in how to be a form teacher, one of the key mentoring roles in education, and many schools feel compelled to sideline pastoral care in the pursuit of league table targets.