Secondary and further education

The rates of mental health problems increase as children get older. Almost two in 10 students aged 11 to 16 has an identifiable mental health condition – which rises to one in five among 17 to 22 year olds.

Secondary schools and further education settings have a vital role to play in supporting young people’s mental health. 

Schools can develop young people’s social and emotional skills, and help those students who are having difficulties get the support they need.

This section of the site will help secondary school staff learn more about mental health, and get started on the path to becoming a mentally healthy school.

What's mental health?

We all have mental health. Your mental health affects how you feel, think and act. It refers to your emotional, psychological and social wellbeing. Your mental health can change and fluctuate on a daily basis and over time, and can be affected by a range of factors.

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Social and emotional skills

Social and emotional skills are the skills that help young people develop their resilience and manage their thoughts, feelings and behaviour.

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Getting started – school leaders

Young people’s mental health and wellbeing should be a core thread running through all school activities, and should clearly link with whole-school priorities. School leaders need to be the driving force behind this.

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Getting started - teaching and support staff

Promoting good mental health and wellbeing in schools and further education settings relies on every member of staff playing their part.

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How to start a conversation with children and young people about mental health

Calmly and confidently opening up conversations in our schools and settings can encourage young people to understand that mental health is something we all have, and that we should be aware of it and learn skills to look after it.

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How to start a conversation with a parent/carer

In secondary schools and further education settings, there may be fewer opportunities for school staff to have conversations with parents and carers. Although parents may be less accessible to staff as children get older, this doesn’t mean that engaging with them is any less important.

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Guidance for using Mentally Healthy Schools

Learn how to use the Mentally Healthy Schools website with our simple guidance.

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Neuroscience and brain development

Human brains go through significant changes during adolescence, which can often reflect in the behaviour of young people.

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