A report by the charity Mind has revealed that secondary school students suffering from mental health needs are not being met and mental health problems are being treated as bad behaviour.
Not making the grade, published on Wednesday, revealed that 96% of young people surveyed reported that their mental health had affected their school work and 48% had been punished at school for behaviour that was caused by mental health.
The charity is calling for an end to placing students in isolation as punishment and asking that everyone aged 11-25 can access early mental health support without referral or appointment.
Zoe, 21, told South West Londoner that the response to her mental health at school made life extremely difficult.
She said: “I first started suffering from mental illness when I was 14.
“I was getting detentions, parents at the school were saying I was a danger to their children and the school tried to kick me out of all my lessons despite knowing all the trauma and PTSD I was dealing with.
“The school forced me to go to see the councillor and pastoral carer and it wasn’t tailored at all to what I needed. They just turned around to me and said: ‘There is nothing we can do for you.’
“I moved to a different college with really supportive teachers and things started to get better.
“Once I had a panic attack in school and my teacher closed me into a room and was shouting at me to breathe. They wouldn’t let me take the medicine I had been prescribed at the time.
“There needs to be better funding in general for mental health but particularly more funding for training teachers when it comes to dealing with mental health.”
The report surveyed over 1271 students aged 11-25 in England from September 2020 to April 2021 with a further 1600 parents, school staff and mental mental health professionals also contributing.
Of the 48% who reported they had been disciplined for behaviour linked to their mental health, over one in four (27%) had been placed in isolation and one in ten (10%) had been physically restrained by staff.
It references a young person who was excluded from school for two days and then placed into isolation for a week after they stole a scalpel from science in an attempt to self harm.
The study also revealed that 25% of teachers were aware of a young person being excluded from school because of their mental health.
It is estimated that over 8,000 students are permanently excluded from school every year, a response that has been condemned by social workers.
At present, there is no limit on the number of days a student can be placed in isolation and there is no policy that requires schools to provide education whilst they are in isolation.
Mind spokesperson David Stephenson said: “The response can’t always be discipline but it’s important to note that schools need better resources and teachers need better training.
“Teachers do a really important and difficult job and we need the Government to come forward and invest in early support for young people before they reach crisis point.
“At the moment support isn’t accessible and students are waiting for months on end to get the help that they need.”
The charity is calling for the government to invest in early support hubs which work on a self referral basis with no appointment needed and caters for those who do not meet threshold for current Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS).
They have also called for the Department of Education to make attachment and trauma training mandatory to teacher’s training and include education on how young men and women express their mental health and response to trauma.