Depression rising among pupils, say headeachers

EdExec, 05.10.15, teenage pupils are experiencing unprecedented levels of depression, eating disorders and self-harm, according to headteachers. Bernard Trafford, former HMC Chairman and headmaster of The Royal Grammar School, Newcastle is quoted.

The warning comes from the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference (HMC), representing 275 leading private schools, which surveyed 65 headteachers on the subject, the Guardian reports.

The responses found that in some ways, schools appear to have become kinder places, with fewer cases of intolerance such as homophobic bullying, as well as less drug and alcohol misuse. However, they found greatly increased cyberbullying and online threats, and what the HMC called unprecedented levels of self-harm, depression and eating disorders among pupils.

Bernard Trafford, the headmaster of the Royal Grammar school in Newcastle upon Tyne and a former chair of HMC, told the Guardian that exam pressures played some role, with pupils facing higher grade requirements to get into top universities.

But a greater factor, he said, appeared to be the way social media made common teenage anxieties harder to escape, also exaggerating worries over such things as body image.

“It is the pressure to excel, and also to be beautiful, all that stuff. And friendship issues seem to be more difficult than ever. In the old days, you got home from school, or in the boarding sector got back to your boarding house, and you got away from it to some extent.

“But of course the digital messaging follows people home, even into the bedroom, and they’re never away from it. For young people, who aren’t good at having the strength of mind to just turn the damn thing off, the 24/7 nature does help to amplify the pressures, even if they’re much the same pressures they used to be.”

Read the full article ©EdExec