Urgent action needed as figures reveal growing number of Portsmouth children with mental health conditions

Concern is growing over children's mental health. Picture posed by model.
Concern is growing over children's mental health. Picture posed by model.
Share this article

GROWING concerns about a rising number of children with mental health conditions have seen a major summit of teachers called in a bid to better help pupils.

Figures show nearly one in five children and young people in Portsmouth have some form of mental health need.

Teachers will unite in a matter of weeks for the city’s first Wellbeing in Education conference with the hope to curb anxiety, self harm and depression.

Education cabinet member for Portsmouth City Counci, Councillor Suzy Horton, said: ‘What we do know is when children's mental health is not good their learning is also not as good.

'That's why this is a crucial issue and that is part of the reason why we are putting on this conference.'

Sarah Christopher, conference coordinator and Portsmouth Education Partnership school inclusion manager, said school workers will be given ‘tools to support’ those in need on a day-to-day basis.

She said: ‘If we can help to address children’s emotional needs and they feel safe and comfortable in attending school then this should help to improve student outcomes.’

Portsmouth City Council data shows 8,940 youngsters had a mental health need out of the 50,255 children and young people living in Portsmouth aged from infants to 19, as of 2014.

Senior teachers have previously spoken to The News about their concerns.

Sarah, who is coordinating the conference on March 25, added: ‘Nationally there is a need for teachers to develop strategies to deal with children’s increasingly complex needs.

‘The aim is to improve early identification and referral of children who need additional support. It is also about giving teachers the tools to support them in their day to day work.’

The conference is one part of the council’s Strategy for Improving Wellbeing and Resilience in Education programme.

The initiative hopes to prevent mental ill health through early intervention and collaboration.

Some of the sessions at the council-run conference will be aimed at helping teachers’ wellbeing.