What causes mental health problems in schools

1 in 6 school-aged children has a mental health problem, and 75% of diagnosable mental health conditions are present before the age of 18. In 2017 we raised 103,000 signatures during our Headucation campaign for a parliamentary debate which led to compulsory mental health education in schools from the September 2020 school year. Despite this, teachers receive no compulsory mental health training, which has left them feeling overwhelmed and unequipped to support the children under their supervision.

Poor mental health can lead to serious problems in school including low attendance, poor grades and disruptive behaviour, therefore it’s crucial – not only for a child’s wellbeing, but also for their education and social development – that teachers know how to support common mental health challenges.

Our Headucation 2025 campaign aims to train 150,000 teachers in the basics of mental health support by 2025 – as part of this campaign we want to educate teaching staff about what can put children at higher risk of developing a mental health condition.


Being the victim of bullying can massively affect a person’s mental health, as can being the bully themselves. Those involved in bullying are at a higher risk of developing long term anxiety or depression as a result of the experience. While many educators place an emphasis on preventing bullying in the first place, consideration also needs to be put into looking after the wellbeing of those who have been bullied already.


Those who suffer abuse, whether from friends or family, may experience mental distress as well as physical pain. They may require counselling or additional support in school to ensure they have the space to recover from their traumatic experience.


At any age, we are all saddened by the loss of a loved one – but for a child this can be a particularly distressing and overwhelming experience. Children may experience a range of emotions and exhibit abnormal behaviours – if not dealt with correctly, these can lead to long term mental health conditions and behavioural problems. Ensure your school has the proper training in place in to handle bereavement or reach out to a children’s bereavement organisation.

Substance abuse

Many teenagers turn to drugs and alcohol to cope with the difficulties that come with transitioning to adulthood. While substance abuse in itself is a serious problem, it can also severely impact a young person’s mental health by inhibiting key developmental processes and distorting their view on reality. Some teens even turn to substances as a way to cope with their existing mental health struggles so it’s not only a risk factor, but a sign of poor mental health.

Difficult home situations

Difficult home situations like divorce or arguments between family members can be incredibly stressful and upsetting for children. Schools may need to provide extra support to children in these situations who are at risk of suffering from long term stress, anxiety or depression.

Moving house or school

Large transitions like moving house or school may be difficult for some children to handle. Many may display changes in their behaviour or academic performance in response to these transitions – often these changes are actually caused by mental health challenges, e.g. stress or anxiety, triggered by the move. If a new child is joining your school or an existing pupil is moving house, consider providing additional support to help them manage their mental wellbeing.

Pre-existing conditions

Conditions such as ADHD or autism will likely already be receiving extra attention in schools to support children with their academic development. However, these children are also at a higher risk of developing mental health conditions than other children. It’s important that attention is paid to supporting their mental health and developing practical skills that can help them with challenges later in life.

Shawmind is dedicating itself to training 150,000 teachers by 2025 in the basics of mental health support at no cost to the school. That means we aim to equip mental health first responders who will reach 2.5-million school children.

If you’re a teacher or school leader interested in mental health training, please get in touch with us. Your school could be eligible for fully-funded mental health training.

Help us achieve our goal. Donate now or purchase one of our training programmes (all profits from our training programmes go towards our Headucation 2025 campaign).



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