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schools face growing responsibility for students' mental health

2 March 2017

Statistics identify that in 2012, one in ten children under the age of 16, had a diagnosable mental health disorder. Beyond the 10%, approximately 15% more have less severe problems that put them at risk of developing mental health problems in the future. It is not surprising therefore that the Prime Minister has identified that schools are often in the front line of the challenge around mental illness.

Although school staff are not medical professionals and cannot make a formal diagnosis of a mental health condition, every school teacher owes a pupil a duty of care. Whilst this places what many might well see as yet another burden on top of already stretched resources, it is important for schools to be attuned to what may be signs of mental illness and to understand the extent of their responsibility so that they can evidence that the proper duty of care has been shown. More importantly, it could make a significant difference to a young person’s life chances.

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