SAMH is calling on the Scottish Government to:
Introduce Personal and Social Education (PSE) subject teachers by the end of the next parliamentary term; and
Take measures to immediately protect time for school staff to undertake training and skills development in mental health.
A SAMH survey of school staff in Scotland found that two-thirds of teachers did not feel they had received sufficient training in mental health, and almost half had never done any continuous professional development in mental health.
Yet it has never been more important for school staff to understand the needs of learners experiencing distress.
We recognise the workload challenges that school staff face, which is why we want their time to be protected so that they can undertake this training and skills development, allowing them to confidently respond to the mental health concerns of learners.
Not only will this empower school staff to better support pupils, but it will also enable them to recognise signs of poor mental health in themselves and their colleagues.
“This is a growing issue that, as a teacher, I am seeing and dealing with a lot more pupils coming to me with mental health and wellbeing issues. The problem is the lack of training we have to give these pupils support and also once we refer these pupils the massive lack of support available to them and parents to help them”.
Steps also need to be taken to improve the quality of Personal and Social Education (PSE) in Scottish schools, which needs to include education in mental health.
As part of a Review of PSE, 17% of Young Scot survey respondents felt that PSE was not helpful at all. This number increased as pupils entered the senior phase of secondary school. It is time to value PSE as highly as other school subjects. For this to happen in a way that does not add to the workloads of existing teaching staff, we want dedicated PSE subject teachers to be introduced by the end of the next parliamentary term.
This will ensure young people receive high quality education on topics that are crucial to their personal development, including mental health.