School mental health: integrating young people's voices to shift the paradigm
Deteriorating patterns of pupil mental health are emerging across the globe, exacerbated by the additional pressures of the COVID-19 pandemic, which is affecting access to educational and employment opportunities for young populations. Finding ways to support pupils in their schools given the myriad difficulties that they face requires clearly conceptualised public health models built on a solid scientific basis. Failure to implement these models frustrates many of those involved in designing, delivering, and receiving services, given how most children have contact with schools, as opposed to the scarce accessibility of mental health services.
Additionally, many families are desperately trying to seek support for their children, but are unable to access any care either because it is not available or the pupil does not meet the referral criteria for mental health services. These frustrations of pupils and their families are mirrored by what teachers experience, who often feel that they are able to identify pupils who need additional support for mental, emotional, or behavioural problems, but who, despite early identification, cannot harness or access needed supportive services in a timely way.