Mental Health Crisis

Dear School Leader

In recent days, I’ve been shocked to read in newspapers on both sides of the political spectrum, headlines proclaiming that 7.4% of young people have attempted suicide by the age of 17.

Almost as concerning was the figure of 24.1% who have self-harmed.

These figures come from the millennium cohort study, by University College London, published in the British Journal of Psychiatry – the full report is here – and is well worth reading for the detail. Incredibly, these figures relate to the period before the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Data from Smoothwall Monitor, now operational in over 648 schools around the UK, shows an increase of 250% in serious alerts in the twelve months of December 2019 to December 2020.

I was motivated to write to you today after reading this study and reflecting on our own findings, to ask if you would consider doing one of these things to help us address this mental health crisis amongst our young people:

  1. We are offering 90 days of free Smoothwall Monitor* to help every school manage the return of students, and address the concerns raised in this report. We’ve been supporting schools in this way throughout the pandemic and I am now extending this, for free, from March 8th to June 7th 2021. (After this time it will automatically turn off unless any schools wish to continue.) Please help us spread the word so more schools can get help via this link.
  2. Join me in responding to the KCSIE 2021 consultation that expires on 4th March, specifically to questions 14 and 23, which focus on the tools available to safeguarding leaders like you to pursue the highest standards of safeguarding. At Smoothwall we are convinced that eyes and ears alone are not sufficient to be considered ‘appropriate’ monitoring anymore; not when so much use of technology is now remote, and furthermore, as devices return from the pandemic to use in classrooms, no one could reasonably place the burden of ‘appropriate monitoring’ onto a teacher with a class full of devices based on their eyes and ears alone. We know that the judgement call of a trained DSL is critical and utterly irreplaceable –  and to ask the DSL to safeguard students in the modern world without a technical monitoring solution, is asking them to work blind to a huge area of risk. KCSIE and the UKSIC guidance need to be updated.
  3. Write to your MP. I know, what good will it do?! It depends on your local MP but I have been pleasantly surprised in the past at the positive response and action when I’ve done this. I will be quoting the UCL report in my letter, “the Government should provide dedicated and sustainable funding for preventative and early intervention and support services in local communities and education settings.”

Yours Sincerely
Georg Ell
CEO, Smoothwall




February 26th 2021

*Excludes existing users of Monitor 

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