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Improving mental health support for young people

Secondary schools are struggling to meet the needs of young people with mental health problems. See how we're campaigning for change, and get involved.

What we're fighting for

Our report, Not making the grade, shows that growing numbers of young people who've experienced trauma, racism and mental health problems are finding themselves stuck.

Secondary schools are struggling to meet their needs.

And even where they do, stigma and lack of trust means that young people are reluctant to ask school for help.

We have a simple set of recommendations for schools and the UK government on how to turn things around for young people.

  1. Provide mental health support that meets young people's needs. Everyone aged 11-25 should be able to access early mental health support, without an appointment or a referral, in their local area.
  2. Tackle racism in secondary schools. There must be a legal duty for schools to report on racist incidents.
  3. Make it easier for young people to get help from NHS mental health services. Everyone involved in NHS mental health services should work together to make it easier for young people to access mental health care.
  4. Stop treating mental health problems as bad behaviour. Schools should be banned from putting young people in isolation as a punishment. All teaching staff should take action to understand the causes of young people’s behaviour.
  5. The UK government must urgently invest in early support hubs across England. These hubs would give young people a place to go, before their mental health problems reach crisis point.
  6. We demand a radical rethink into the way schools respond to young people's behaviour. Schools must do more to understand when young people's behaviour is a result of mental health problems and trauma.

How you can get involved

We need the UK government to invest in early support hubs for young people. These hubs would make sure that young people have the support they need, when they need it.

You can help us by spreading the message on social media. This will help raise awareness, and let other people know the scale of the issue. Share the word on:

“The schools do not have the resources to meet the needs of children with mental health problems and it took 9 months to get support via CAMHS. By this time it was too late.” - Parent of a young person

The facts about mental health support in schools

The overwhelming message from young people is that academic achievement is prioritised at the expense of wellbeing.

The pressure to perform well in exams is negatively impacting young people's mental health. This impacts their ability to take part in school.

We also found that:

  • Young people's education is being damaged because they can't access good mental health support.
  • Young people's mental health problems get treated as bad behaviour.
  • Racism in schools is impacting young people's mental health. 55% of young people from Black and Black British backgrounds experienced racism at school. That rose to 57% for people from mixed ethnic backgrounds. And more than 36% from Asian or Asian British backgrounds.

Learn more by reading our report. To write it, we heard from more than 2800 young people, parents, school staff and mental health professionals.

>Read the full report (PDF)

>Read the report summary (PDF)

96% of young people said their mental health had affected their schoolwork at some point.

56% of school staff said that young people who didn't receive support self-harmed.

48% said they'd been punished for behaviour caused by their mental health.

59% of school staff were aware of young people experiencing racism at school.

47% of school staff said racism had affected the mental health of those who experienced it.

70% of young people who experienced racism in school said it impacted their wellbeing.

"I struggled to complete all of my work and homework and was often punished for this. There was never any question around why I was repeatedly falling short and no offer of extra support."

More ways to support our campaigns

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Sign up to be a campaigner

Campaign with us for a better deal for people with mental health problems. You'll be supported to speak out and take action on our campaigns.

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Join our Youth Voice Network

If you’re a young person between the ages of 11 and 24, get involved and we'll keep you updated on ways you can shape our work in England and Wales.

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