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Welsh students missing school due to poor mental health

New research has laid bare the upsetting reality as to why dozens of Welsh secondary students are skipping school: their mental health.

A BBC investigation has highlighted that panic attacks, anxiety and problems with mental health are among the reasons given by children who avoid going to school. The latest figures from the government, which were published in March, figures for secondary schools showed 40% of pupils had been persistently absent in 2022-23, compared with 17% in 2018-19.

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As a result of so many students missing out on their education, Lynne Neagle, the Welsh Education Secretary, said the government was funding training for teachers and school staff to support pupils’ mental health needs.

Currently, there are many upsetting cases of students who are too afraid to go to cool as it triggers their anxiety. Speaking to the BBC, one pupil from Gwynedd Elsi – who doesn’t wish to be named – said she would hide under her kitchen table and lock herself in her bedroom because the thought of going to school was so unbearable. She eventually dropped out of school due to social anxiety.

Recent monthly figures in Wales have shown some improvement in students returning back to school, although one institution in Swansea has had to implement extra measures to try and get pupils back.

Head teacher at Ysgol Gyfun Gymraeg Bryn Tawe, Simon Davies, explained some of his heads of years, pastoral support officers and teachers have gone to students homes in a bid to try and get them back to school.

Commenting on the news, Lynne Neagle, said: ‘It’s difficult to find a silver bullet in this space, but mental-health support in school is really a big part of the solution.

‘Every child aged year six and above is entitled to access school counselling in Wales. We’re funding training for the teachers and school staff so that they can better support pupils, and we’ve got our CAMHS [Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services] in-reach.’

Image: balesphotography

More on this topic:

‘Movement’: Mental Health Awareness Week 2024

Insights into adolescent mental health using video game

Emily Whitehouse
Writer and journalist for Newstart Magazine, Social Care Today and Air Quality News.

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