Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Teachers see an increase in mental health problems in children

 
  • 75% of teachers think more children have mental health issues than five years ago
  • Two thirds think kids face increased pressure about fashion and appearance
  • Eight out of ten say good school uniform could help reduce bullying
  • Children say uniform helps to reduce anxiety about their appearance and worry about fitting in with their peers
 
New research by the Schoolwear Association has revealed 75% of teachers think that more children have mental health issues than five years ago.
 
 
We commissioned two independent researcher companies, OnePoll and Family Kids and Youth, to explore teachers’ and young people’s views on mental health issues and their link to appearance, identity and bullying in schools.
 
 
Two thirds of the teachers surveyed by OnePoll said they think kids face increased pressure about fashion and appearance with 83% agreeing that a good school uniform helps to reduce bullying among school children by reducing peer pressure around fashion and appearance.
 
 
Focus groups run by leading young people and children’s research agency, Family, Kids and Youth, revealed that young people backed school uniform and saw it as a force for good.
 
 
In a series of sessions, 50 twelve to fourteen year-olds in an East London school shared their views on how uniform helped to reduce anxiety about their appearance and worry about fitting in with their peers. Said one year 9 pupil: “With uniform, you can’t be judged.
 
“[Without uniform] everyone would be competing about what the style is, what the trend is, what you need to wear, I think there’d be more bullying as well and it would be more stress in the morning”
 
 
Many of the young people said they would feel under pressure to wear branded clothing and footwear – ‘like Nike and Adidas’ – to fit in and avoid being bullied if there were no school uniform. This, they said, could pose problems for those who couldn’t afford these kind of brands but also for those who could. No-one wanted to be labelled ‘the rich kid’.
 
 
Interestingly, the research also backed up the idea that uniform can put children in the right mindset for school. As one year seven boy commented: “Imagine sitting in a maths lesson wearing your own clothes! I don’t feel like I’d do much work in the whole day if I didn’t have to wear uniform.”
 
 
Dr Barbie Clarke, lead researcher for Family, Kids and Youth and expert in child and adolescent psychosocial development, said some important conclusions could be drawn from the research:  
 
“School uniforms seem to play an important role in establishing identity among young people of this age. It can protect adolescents from being picked on or being the subject of banter that verges on bullying. This creates a greater degree of self-confidence, and helps with the fundamental adolescent need to be accepted by others.”
 
 
Chairman of the Schoolwear Association, David Burgess, said: “We have carried out previous research which shows that wearing school uniform can lead to improved learning, better behaviour and greater safety for pupils. This is the first time we have really looked at its effect on well-being.
 
 
“We wanted to explore the role of school uniform in helping to tackle some of the issues – like bullying, identity and safety – that can contribute to mental health problems in young people.
 
 
“It’s clear from the research that both teachers and young people think school uniform has significant benefits for enabling young people to fit in, avoid bullying and establish their identity within the boundaries of the school environment. We think every child deserves that.”