The annual conference of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT) took place over Easter, with Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) high on the agenda. Held at venues throughout the UK from Good Friday to Easter Monday, the event provides a forum for union members to establish NASUWT policy on issues affecting the working lives of teachers and education in the UK.

This year, delegates called for improved approaches to mental health in school, for both teachers and pupils, through the provision of MHFA training. A motion on mental health was passed calling for the Union's National Executive to, among other things, continue campaigning to promote MHFA training in schools, and increase the provision of the Union’s MHFA training programme for all members, including specific training for its leadership. A CPD session on MHFA was also included as part of the conference’s schedule of events

Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, has urged all schools to provide MHFA to better support both staff and pupils’ access to counselling when needed. She said, “It is clear that for too many teachers the job is taking an unacceptable toll on their health and wellbeing and that this is affecting all aspects of their personal and professional lives.”

Her comments follow the publication of research by the NASUWT, reported in The Mirror, showing that six in 10 teachers feel their job has impacted their mental health in the past 12 month, with three in 10 reportedly turning to medication to deal with work stresses.

MHFA training is currently being offered to secondary schools as part of the Youth MHFA in Schools programme, with plans to extend mental health training to primary schools announced recently by the Government. These new calls from the NASUWT now add to the growing recognition of a need to provide school staff with appropriate mental health training to support both themselves and their pupils.

To find out more about Youth MFHA click here.