Teachers at Jewish schools are to get specialist training on spotting and dealing with mental health issues among children after community leaders identified a “worrying increase” in the number of cases being reported.
The initiative, which follows a major funding donation by Charles Wolfson Charitable Trust and the Wolfson Jewish School’s Fund, will involve workshops for school staff, run by mental health and wellbeing charity Place2be.
A spokeswoman for Partnership for Jewish Schools (PaJeS), a division of the Jewish Leadership Council, said that professional training was “much needed”. They added that it would “transform the support currently provided by Jewish schools”.
PaJeS’ consultation with school leaders revealed that 85 percent of Jewish schools had seen an increase in mental health issues being reported by students. It is not clear whether this increase is due to the reducing stigma of highlighting personal concerns, or whether external factors are leading to more problems.
“Headteachers considered the needs of their schools and agreed on a strategy to address their concerns,” said PaJeS director Rabbi David Meyer.
“We need to take every step necessary to ensure that our students’ educational environment is one that can provide the required support that every student in every facet of their daily school life requires.”
The most significant issues that Jewish schools have identified are anxiety, depression, self-esteem and anger amongst students, and PaJeS said the training would give teachers the “skills, confidence and resources to help cope with the wide-range of emotional and social issues”.