Below is an e-mail we received from a wonderful, committed and successful headteacher friend of ours recently. It is just one part of a whole wave of concerns coming through now about mental health in children, parents and schools. 

I wonder if Mr Gove or the new head of Ofsted has anything to say to her that can help?

A chat…

I have had one of the toughest terms with regard to children and parents’ mental health this term.  I have a year 4 girl who has just been diagnosed with a bipolar disorder. After kicking, biting and screaming her way through some of her friends, staff, parents and me, we have a managed transfer to an EBD school.  She still kicks off but they have fewer pupils and more adult support.  The sad side is she has a twin who is staying with us and is at the opposite end of the spectrum.  We have attachment issues too.

Today a year 1 boy has been spitting in his teacher’s face after throwing a pair of scissors across a room at others.  Mum is a single parent, on her own and herself works in EarlyYears settings. She is intelligent and supportive but I think has totally over indulged this child who I believe has Asperger’s 

An increase in family break-ups is producing an abundance of children with special needs who are struggling to engage with their peers, let alone their learning. 

I could sit and write at least ten more paragraphs about the children on the edge…the children who are desperately in need but social care say they don’t quite meet the threshold.  The ones whose parents won’t pay for after school care but keep them locked out until after 7pm when they return from the pub.  The children whose parents can’t cope with their own world and are threatening suicide every other day, yet their offspring are expected to make exceptional progress.  It is a challenging time for Headteachers (and my school is in a fairly affluent part of the world). 

I am worried about the mental health more than ever of our children and their families.  There must be something more we can do. I would love to contribute more to Independent Thinking and get involved in various projects, but keeping my head above the tide line is a struggle right now. I am emotionally and physically drained by it all.

Just wanted to share…thanks for listening.