News

Reimagining the Future: Mental Health in Schools

| Social Policy

It is no surprise to anyone who follows the news that there is increasing focus across education and policy on mental health. 

Over the last few years, Ecorys staff have spoken to many teachers and school staff who are doing what they can to support pupils with mental health issues but want to reimagine a future where there are fewer issues in the first place and any that do arise can be dealt with effectively. Is this possible?  

The easy answer is that there is no easy answer. Schools are only one part of a wider system and staff have many demands on their time. Reimagining the future requires a focus both on what schools can do themselves and how they can link up with other organisations. It also needs to blend aspiration with evidence, recognising that just providing “blue sky” thinking does little to actually help school staff in their daily work.

At Ecorys, our Children and Families Team continue to work in schools and other settings, evaluating mental health programmes and providing practical advice on real-life interventions. Earlier this year, the Department for Education (DfE) published our evaluation of the Peer Support Pilots programme, an in-depth study across a hundred organisations examining how peer support could be delivered and how it worked. We’ve also just completed a new study on Mental Health and School Links (due to be published by DfE soon), following up our previous evaluation with further insight into how schools can link with other organisations and the health system to deal with mental health issues.  

These evaluations are designed to support school staff, incorporating practical guidance, and highlighting best practice. This is part of our commitment at Ecorys not just to making our findings widely available but using them as a basis for ongoing discussion. We’ve already spoken to many school staff and stakeholders and would welcome further conversations. 

To continue the discussion and make sure we hear about what can make a difference to schools on this issue, please contact Associate Director, Diarmid Campbell-Jack, [email protected]