Dave Thompson/PA Wire

Christian teacher urges staff to take pupils' mental health seriously, despite lack of support

Fri 09 Feb 2018
By Tola Mbakwe

A Christian teacher has encouraged other educators to focus more on their students' mental health after a new report revealed nearly half of school leaders struggle to commission mental health services.

According to a survey published by children's charity Place2Be, hundreds of school leaders say they have had difficulties helping their students with mental health.

The research showed that while 84 per cent of secondary schools and 56 per cent of primary schools offered some form of counselling services for students, almost half said that a lack of local services and knowing what support is appropriate hindered their provision of support.


Christian secondary school teacher from London, Ekaete Olowu, said schools need to work harder on the issue.

She told Premier News Hour: "It's part of your job as an educator to care for the entire wellbeing of a child. It's not just the academic subject you're teaching them.

"We need to do it on a holistic level. Especially because [children] spend so much time at school, we can often become almost parent number two if not the main adult they go to if they have an issue."

Nine in ten respondents reported that funding issues limited the provision of mental health support at their schools. Mental health services are funded by 93 per cent of schools who responded to the survey.

Olowu said a lack of time is also a factor for teachers.

"Unless you have a genuine care to want to help that child, if can be difficult if somebody comes to you and you've got lessons to plan and you've got books to mark," she said.

"If there was more time, the students would be able to share with you more and you'd be able to spend more time to try and get to the root of whatever is affecting them."

Place2Be has argued that mental health services in schools are critical as half of mental health problems in adults start by the age of 14.

Olowu agreed and encouraged teachers to have a "caring spirit" to push past the barriers of mental health help in schools.

"We have to put that [care] first before the subject we teach because a happy child is a good learner anyway."

She asked Christians to pray for teachers to address the issue effectively.

"It is something you deal with on a daily basis and it can be very emotionally draining when you develop a close bond with your students and you know their wellbeing isn't necessarily where it should be.

"Pray for strength emotionally and also for wisdom to be able to provide the correct guidance for them and to also have that caring spirit... your time may be restricted, but this is somebody who's coming to you with a genuine need... have that spirit to want to help them first."

Listen to Ekaete Olowu speaking with Premier's Eno Adeogun here:

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