Survey Finds Depression and Self-Harm Increasing Amongst Private School Students: A recent survey of head teachers within British private schools has revealed that teenage pupils are increasingly suffering from self-harm, depression and eating disorders.
The head teachers in the survey attributed the rising levels of mental illness to prolonged stresses which are amplified by increased exam pressure and on-going anxieties relating to social media.
The survey was conducted by the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference (HMC) – which represents 175 leading UK private schools – who spoke to 65 head teachers about mental illness in private school pupils.
The survey findings revealed that many schools have become more understanding institutions, with the levels of intolerance towards issues such as homosexuality decreasing, as well as there being fewer cases of drug and alcohol abuse.
Further negative aspects of private school culture had also been seen to have improved, with approximately 50 per cent of head teachers suggesting that pupils were largely kinder to each other and less likely to bully other pupils. As well as this, 82 per cent said that their pupils appeared to be more tolerant of differences.
Despite becoming more tolerant places of education, the head teachers revealed notable increases in the levels of cyber bullying and online threats and what the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference describes as unprecedented levels of depression, eating disorders and self-harm.
The Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference discovered that the amount of schools reporting social media misuse or cyber bullying had more than doubled since 2010. Of the head teachers in the survey, 65 per cent said it is a serious issue.
The survey also discovered a notable rise in self-harming, with 88 per cent of schools saying that they had dealt with instances of self-harm and 45 per cent regarding it as a serious issue within their school.
When it came to depression, 87 per cent of the head teachers said that it was a problem, in comparison with just 47 per cent in 2010.
Similarly, eating disorders have become a greater problem in private schools over the last five years, with 85 per cent outlining it as an issue in 2015, compared with 65 per cent in 2010.
The Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference also found that private schools are bringing in more professional help for their pupils, with 45 per cent claiming that they have increased the availability of in-house counselling since 2010. Of the schools in the survey, the vast majority said that they now run classes for parents about non-school related issues.
Within both private and state schools, exam stress, cyber bullying and misuse/overuse of cyber bullying have become more and more common. A separate survey revealed that teenagers who use devices at night time may be at a greater risk of depression and anxiety.
In May 2015, the NSPCC claimed that the levels of young people having counselling for exam stress had risen by 200 per cent in the last few years.
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