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Richard Fletcher, Director of Performance

The Importance of Mental Health in Education

In a recent update to a study carried out by NHS England, it was stated that the probability of children and young people experiencing poor mental health has risen from 1 in 9, to now 1 in 5. This alarming trend has highlighted the necessity for further attention to be drawn to the subject of mental health in children, especially on the importance of supporting positive mental wellbeing within education settings.

“Fostering positive mental wellbeing is essential to a child’s successful personal and academic development from an early age. The subject of mental health holds great significance across the Dukes Education family” said Richard Fletcher, Director of Performance at Dukes Education, and lead on Dukes mental health training.

Richard went on to say, “It is important to start by defining mental health, which we understand as the state of our emotional, psychological, and social wellbeing. Mental health affects how we think, feel and act. It helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. You can think of your mental health as a continuum.”

“The continuum illustrates that individuals, regardless of whether they have a diagnosed mental illness, have the capacity to reside above the midpoint, striving toward optimal mental wellbeing. Additionally, it underscores the obstacle of stigma—a barrier that may hinder individuals from seeking assistance to enhance their mental wellbeing or from receiving a diagnosis that could aid in understanding how to improve their mental health.”

However, with the number of children experiencing challenges with their mental health on the rise, it is imperative that educators, and their respective schools, are prepared to utilise the necessary techniques and approaches needed to support pupils in developing positive mental wellbeing.

“One critical factor we have realised over the years is the importance of language and communication when it comes to understanding and addressing the subject of mental health. To promote positive mental wellbeing among our young learners, we must include our staff and adult community in our approaches. From leadership programmes to Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) courses, we are continually striving to clarify what we mean by mental health, and how can we eradicate the misconceptions and negative connotations associated with the term.”

Richard continued, “We seek to adopt both proactive and reactive approaches; proactive approaches involve teaching practices and behaviours that encourage good mental health, whereas reactive ones involve addressing the challenges as they arise. Our schools and colleges seek to ensure the presence of both modes of approach.”

One notable example is Cardiff Sixth Form College’s ‘CREATE’ program. The programme is designed to enhance and promote positive mental health and wellbeing by developing students’ skills and knowledge outside of their curricular studies.  The aim of the programme is to help students become independent, self-sufficient young adults with a genuine care and interest in others in the world.


The Mindfulness in Schools Project (MiSP) is also promoted across Dukes Education. Funding is available for staff to undergo training that equips them to support the mental health of their students through learning and consequently employing mindfulness techniques.


“We also understand the influence of culture on mental health. The shift in culture over the past few years has led to more open discussions about mental health, promoting its acceptance and reducing the associated stigma. We aim to create an accepting and supportive environment across the Dukes Education family that encourages open dialogue about mental health, fostering a sense of belonging and community.


“Learning & Development plays a crucial role in creating a supportive culture and raising awareness about mental health across the community. By doing so, we aim to reduce stigma, increase acceptance, and foster a nurturing environment conducive to positive mental health outcomes. Our initiatives encourage self-acceptance and promote understanding, facilitating recovery and fostering resilience.”

In closing, the importance of mental health in the educational setting cannot be overstated. At Dukes Education, we strive to create an environment where mental health is understood, mental wellbeing is promoted, and stigma associated with mental health issues is eliminated. All these measures collectively contribute to a healthier, more accepting, and supportive educational community.