90% of teachers anticipate a rise in pupil mental health concerns this term, according to new research

07 September 2020

Stress, anxiety and poor behaviour likely to be on the rise, thanks to COVID-19.

These are testing times for all of us and especially so in the education sector. Ongoing research from specialist education insurer Ecclesiastical has found that teacher and pupil mental wellbeing has been increasingly on the line for some time. This has increased in recent months with nine out of 10 teachers (90%) agreeing that schools will see a rise in pupil mental health concerns as students adapt to school life after six months at home.
Some 62% feel that pupil stress and anxiety will be the biggest challenge schools will face due to COVID-19 when returning in September. 
Unsurprisingly, 72% of teachers feel anxious about returning to school themselves in September, with the main concerns revolving around the risks of COVID-19. However half (50%) are worried about pupil behaviour, 48% are concerned about the extra workload and 27% feel out of practice. Ninety four percent are concerned about pupil anxiety.
Not all teachers feel their pupils have had enough support. Only half (50%) say their school provided additional, remote COVID-19-related wellbeing support in the form of more regular calls/virtual meetings with staff. However, 42% say their school is planning this in the form of additional training for staff on managing mental health issues.
Parental support has been forthcoming, however, with 79% reporting having felt supported by parents during lockdown. Fewer (65%) felt helped by the government.
As much as 61% of teachers expect to see an increase in home-schooling after the lockdown but 94% said they would welcome parental involvement in their children’s schooling. Some 69% think that teachers will face more pressure from parents for greater personalisation as a result of home-schooling during lockdown.
In previous research carried out last year from Ecclesiastical, a third of teachers (33%) cited managing mental health and wellbeing of pupils as the top short-term risk, along with cyberbullying (32%) and managing mental health and wellbeing of staff (31%). 
The Education Risk Barometer, written from research carried out in late 2019, found that increasing expectations from Government, parents and even pupils is creating a pressurised environment in schools that is having a disturbing impact on the mental health of pupils and teachers. Almost half of teachers have seen a rise in stress and depression in children in the last five years.

Faith Kitchen, Ecclesiastical’s education director, says: “As schools reopen their doors to all pupils this week we recognise that it’s an incredibly challenging time for the education sector. Our latest research has found the vast majority of teachers anticipate a rise in pupil mental health concerns this term due to the impact of COVID-19. 72% of teachers have also expressed that they feel anxious about returning to school, largely due to fears revolving around the risks of COVID-19.”
“Young people’s wellbeing is now one of the greatest concerns, for not just teachers, but for the whole of our society,” says Dr Dominique Thompson, university GP, student mental health expert and author of the Student Wellbeing series of books for young people. She adds, “It is particularly worrying for parents and teachers, as the poorer the wellbeing of the next generation, the higher the risk to their future achievements.”