Research from the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) has this week shown that half of pupils excluded from schools have a mental health issue compared with 1 in 50 pupils in the wider population, with estimates suggesting this might be as high as 100% once undiagnosed problems are taken into account.

The IPPR note that excluded pupils are four times more likely to grow up in poverty, twice as likely to be living in care, and seven times more likely to have a special educational need as other children. Meanwhile government data has shown that only one in a hundred children who have been permanently excluded from mainstream schools go on to receive five good GCSE grades. It is also suggested that marginalised young people are often then more likely to go to prison – according to IPPR estimates, of the 85, 975 people in UK prisons, 54,164 were excluded when at school. The IPPR’s findings will be published in full in a report in September.

Commenting on the announcement, Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England director, Caroline Hounsell, said, “This week’s research from the IPPR highlights the significant impact that mental health issues can have on the lives of our young people. It is therefore imperative that those on the frontline in schools are able to spot the signs and symptoms of mental health issues and have the confidence to intervene at an early stage to start a supportive conversation and to ensure that affected students are able to get the right support at the right time. In our work training school staff in Mental Health First Aid, we are hoping to make this a reality – it’s my belief that our training has an important part to play in helping young people to get the support they may need, but also in promoting a ‘whole school’ approach that encourages the creation of mentally healthy learning environments where young people’s mental health is better looked after on an ongoing basis.”   

MHFA England have been working in the education sector to train school staff in MHFA skills since 2010 and have trained over 25,000 school staff in more than 500 schools and colleges. The Youth MHFA in Schools programme is also currently in its launch year and will train over 1,000 school staff as Youth MHFA Champions by December. The government has committed to fund over 3,000 places on the Youth MHFA One Day course over three years, so that by 2020 at least one person in every state secondary school in England has MHFA skills.

To read about school staff’s experiences on the Youth MHFA in Schools programme click here. You can also find out more about the impact of MHFA on those working with excluded students here.