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Howard School, Rainham, warns of pupils' mental health epidemic

A Kent school says the scale of mental health issues among pupils has now become an "epidemic".

It comes as research shows half of UK schoolchildren are suffering from anxiety, which can result in lack of sleep, self-harming, or unwillingness to attend class.

Howard School in Rainham explains how students' mental health has become an 'epidemic'

The study, conducted by insurance specialists, Zurich Municipal, revealed youngsters' mental health are at a crisis point, with one in five citing Covid as the greatest source of anxiety.

Assistant head teacher Julie Parish and deputy head of sixth form Steve Julian at Howard School, in Rainham, told kmfm how pupils are asking for help daily, coming to staff with issues they did not have to deal with before the pandemic.

The teachers say the isolation and lack of socialising during lockdown still has a big impact on children, and the return of in-person exams is one of the biggest sources of stress.

Julie said: "It is not an exaggeration to say it's an epidemic. Some of our children had never sat an exam before and they could not be more terrified."

Steve added: "It's not their fault they had never sat an exam before, they're just not that used to that pressure. One of our students just fell apart the other day. They just couldn't do it. They just completely fell apart to the point they were just able to answer two questions."

Pupils said in-person exams tend to be one of the main sources of anxiety. Stock picture
Pupils said in-person exams tend to be one of the main sources of anxiety. Stock picture

Due to the increased demand, the school has introduced a mental health outreach team.

Julie added: "Quite a lot of the time, especially with the sixth-form students, it's just a matter of having a chat with them and signposting them to other services. But it was very evident we needed some external support.

"So when it comes to our mental health team, who offer workshops to help managing anxiety and other services, the waiting list is vast. It's really big."

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