'Difficult and tricky' - headteacher calls for mental health funding in schools

Copleston High School in Ipswich and headteacher Andrew Green (inset)

Headteacher Andrew Green has said in-house mental health resources are invaluable to Copleston High - but are still stretched - Credit: Archant

In-house mental health resources at Copleston High School are stretched, amid a growing wellbeing crisis among young people. 

Andrew Green, headteacher of the Copleston Road school, told MPs this week that funding for emotional support is needed in addition to money for academic catch-up. 

Speaking at the education select committee on Tuesday January 25, he said: "About four years ago, prior to the pandemic, we employed a mental health nurse at the school and I have to say I am very glad we did." 

But even with a full-time nurse on-site, resources at the school are stretched - and Mr Green noted that other agencies have waiting lists of up to a year. 

He continued: "If we did not have the ability to tap into to what we have got in-house it would be even more difficult and tricky." 

After the committee Mr Green added: "The government have been on the front foot with academic catch up and that is to be applauded. 

"However, we are facing a crisis in mental health among our young people which needs immediate action. We need to get the funding in place to support those who have been seriously impacted. 

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"From the very outset I realised that to have a happy, functional school you must look after peoples' emotional wellbeing.  

"That is not to say that we get everything right - that would be impossible - but we certainly realise the importance of this work and we are heavily invested in it as a priority. 

"Having in-house mental health support has been invaluable but even our resources are stretched.  

"I know that other schools are struggling and the young people can't access services. This needs to be addressed." 

These comments come alongside the results of a Healthwatch Suffolk survey that reveals 9% of students in the county say they self-harm

A number of national charities are calling for more awareness of children's mental health, particularly with the challenges posed by the pandemic, including isolation, fear and missing school and routine. 

Mr Green told MPs that the return to face-to-face learning had "a very positive impact" on young people. 

He added that while the school had been strict on mask-wearing in the classroom, the lifting of that restriction would benefit teaching, saying: "I think the teaching and learning in the classroom, whilst teachers are teaching in masks and students are having to wear masks for five hours a day, has been very demanding."