Almost all teachers are coming into contact with pupils suffering from mental health problems
Almost all teachers (98 per cent) say they have come into contact with pupils who are experiencing mental health issues.
These youngsters were most likely to be teenagers, with 58 per cent of teachers saying they had seen issues in 15 to 16-year-olds and 55 per cent in 13 and 14-year-olds.
But nearly a fifth (18 per cent) of those polled by the NASUWT teaching union ahead of its annual conference in Manchester said they had been in contact with four to seven-year-olds showing mental health issues, and over a third (35 per cent) had seen problems in youngsters aged seven to 11.
NASUWT general secretary Chris Keates warned there is concern among teachers about a gap in the availability of experts and counselling to help children with mental health needs.
Nine in 10 (91 per cent) said they had experienced a pupil of any age suffering from anxiety and panic attacks, while 79 per cent were aware of a pupil suffering from depression and 64 per cent knew of a youngster who was self-harming.
The Prime Minister earlier this year pledged to improve mental health support for pupils
NASUWT general secretary Chris Keates
Around half (49 per cent) were aware of children with eating disorders, and a similar proportion (47 per cent) knew about a youngster with obsessive compulsive disorder.
The poll asked teachers about the impact of mental health issues on pupil behaviour, and 89 per cent agreed that it led to an inability to concentrate in class, 85 per cent said it meant youngsters struggled to fully participate in class, and 77 per cent agreed that it led to a pupil being isolated from other students or problems in making friends.
Common mental health disorders Wed, November 2, 2016
Common mental health disorders from anxiety and depression to post-traumatic stress disorder and phobias.
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Stress – Feeling under mental or emotional pressure can lead to sleeping problems, a loss of appetite or difficulty concentrating
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Over four-fifths (84 per cent) said the pressure of exams and testing was contributing to mental health issues, 71 per cent said pressure to be good academically was having an impact, and 36 per cent said bullying played a part.
In addition, 91 per cent said family problems such as ill health or a break-up had an impact on mental health, while 72 per cent said social media played a part.
Ms Keates said: "It is clear that teachers and school leaders are seeing many more children and young people who are exhibiting the signs of serious mental distress.
Four-year-old children have been suffering panic attacks, anxiety and depression, teachers say
"Teachers and school leaders take very seriously their duty of care to their students and it is clear there is a great deal of concern in the profession about the gulf in the availability of expert physiological support and counselling for pupils with mental health needs."
She added: "The Prime Minister earlier this year pledged to improve mental health support for pupils. However, schools cannot address this issue alone and cuts to budgets and services in local authorities, health and education have all taken a heavy toll on the support available."
Teachers have warned of a lack of experts and counselling available for children
Last month, YoungMinds urged the Government to tackle a "mental health crisis in our classrooms".
In an open letter to Theresa May, the charity said pupils’ wellbeing should be considered as important as academic achievement, and called for full funding of wellbeing initiatives, better recognition for schools that do good work on the issue, and specific mental health training for teachers.
:: The NASUWT poll questioned 2,051 members in March.