Teachers trained to help pupils with mental health issues amid Covid crisis
When children come back to school they might be anxious or not feel read
08 September, 2020 — By Helen Chapman
Acland Burghley School
A RISE in young people seeking help for mental health issues has been forecast as schools re-open with teachers taking on “trauma-informed training” to help their pupils cope.
Data shows during the lockdown period there were a total of 1,303 youngsters accessing mental health support in Camden. This is up by 100 from the previous year.
Hiri Arunagiri, safeguarding lead at Acland Burghley School, said: “From our telephone conversations with students we have been having over lockdown we found some students are really anxious. From the lockdown we have seen disrupted sleep patterns and routine.
“Some students are finding it hard to find motivation to work and others are anxious about leaving their homes because that is what they have become used to or because they are afraid, rightly so.”
Teachers have undergone trauma-informed training to deal with changing behaviours in young people caused by stress since Covid-19.
This involves learning about the impact of trauma and stress on learning, communication and behaviour. Other key members of staff have also had extra training from the Children and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS).
Ms Arunagiri added: “We have had training around trauma-informed practice, especially to do with behavioural signs or signals that show that students need extra support. When children come back to school they might be anxious or not feel ready.”
“We want school to be a place where they can talk with staff who are trained. Lots of students are looking forward to coming back to school and seeing their peers. Once we come back we will have a greater understanding of what their needs are and will find solutions tailored to what students need.”
Keith Morgan, CEO of the Young Camden Foundation, said the charity had witnessed young people being stuck at home with “complex family dynamics”, adding: “There is an expected increase in referrals to community services and clinical services.”
He added: “The most concerning thing has been the lack of access to community care because of the lockdown. Those young people who would have usually received that tertiary level of care will now more likely be wanting to access a higher level of care. There will be an exacerbation of mental health issues and feelings of anxiety.”
A Camden Council spokesman said: “There is no doubt that Covid-19 has made this school year one of the most challenging for Camden’s young people and ensuring that they have felt supported, happy and healthy has continued to be a priority for us throughout lockdown.”
He added: “Our mental health and wellbeing services have remained accessible and ready to give support, advice and guidance online while we have also continued seeing those with high support needs, and those unable to access support online, in person.”