World Mental Health Day – How can busy DSLs spot students with mental health concerns?
The 10th October marks World Mental Health Day, which aims to promote mental health and wellbeing as a global priority.
The World Health Organisation reports that an estimated 1 in 7 (14%) of 10-19 year-olds experience mental health conditions, yet these remain largely unrecognised and untreated.
Here we explore the leading factors that affect young people’s mental health today and the valuable role school Designated Safeguarding Leads (DSLs) can play in spotting students whose mental health may be at risk.
Background – Young people are spending more time online
Online usage is increasing amongst our children and young people. Outside the classroom, Childwise reports that children spend, on average, nearly 3.5 hours a day messaging and/or playing games online. Much of this activity takes place on social and gaming sites or apps.
Inside the classroom, a recent EdTech Survey by the DfE, found that the majority of headteachers (88%) believed that technology had or would continue to contribute to improve pupil attainment, indicating that the internet will continue to be an important educational tool for teachers.
Whilst the internet provides many benefits to young people both as a way to connect socially and as a valuable learning tool, without proper safeguards it can adversely affect mental health and expose young people to new risks and dangers.
The risks to mental health – Gaming and social media
Two platforms that continue to increase in popularity, yet give rise to mental wellbeing concerns are gaming and social media. The addictive and dynamic nature of each, continually exposes young people to new risks online.
Online gaming can give way to increased anger, lower social interactions and poor sleep. Social Media can lead to increased stress and anxiety, exposure to online bullying or struggles with self worth. It can expose young people to dangerous content relating to self-harm or even suicide ideation. Sadly, we continue to see headline news of children influenced by such content and the tragic consequences it has.
The challenge for busy DSLs
Whilst DSLs and teachers do their best to prevent such dangers – having oversight of what every student views or shares in the classroom through physical monitoring alone does not suffice. Classroom computer configurations and the number of students to physically watch over make this near impossible.
Therefore, many dangers young people are exposed to online are invisible. The good news is, there is support available to make these invisible risks, visible.
Digital monitoring – spot students with mental health concerns
Digital monitoring, such as Smoothwall Monitor, provides a vital safety net for busy DSLs when it comes to spotting students with mental health concerns. It combines technology and a team of highly trained human moderators to alert safeguarding staff to any student at risk, based on what they do, say or share in their digital lives.
Serious risks such as suicide ideation or online bullying can all be picked up in real-time. In 2021 Smoothwall Monitor helped to detect a child at serious risk, every five minutes.
Through quick intervention and detection of risks online, at Smoothwall we believe it’s possible to spot students at risk online and in doing so improve the mental wellbeing of young people.
We’re here to support schools and colleges on this mission. If you’d like more information on how Smoothwall Monitor can help to protect students at your school or college please don’t hesitate to get in touch. We’re ready to help.