World Mental Health Day 2023: the impact of parental mental health on children’s school attendance and engagement

World Mental Health Day 2023: the impact of parental mental health on children’s school attendance and engagement

News article from October 10, 2023

World Mental Health Day is celebrated each year on 10 October, and is an opportunity to raise awareness and encourage meaningful conversations around mental health.

At School-Home Support, we work with the whole family to overcome barriers to education, and our practitioners see firsthand how parental mental health can have a huge impact on children’s school attendance and engagement with learning. This World Mental Health Day, we’re sharing Robbie’s story.

 

Robbie’s story

When 6 year old Robbie was first referred to School-Home Support Practitioner Julie for low attendance and behaviour issues, Robbie’s mum Claire was at breaking point. Her mental health was at an all time low. Julie worked closely with Claire to overcome the challenges she was facing so that she had the time and space she needed to re-engage with Robbie’s school and learning.

What was the situation?

A single mum to 5 children, Claire was trying to survive on Universal Credit and reduced child benefit. Juggling her tiny income to provide the basics for her family week on week was taking its toll and her debts were mounting. The family’s housing situation was better now that their mice problem was under control, but she still slept downstairs on the couch with her youngest son. 

Claire was searching through free sites and charity shops for the beds and bedding the family needed, but she was running out of steam. The lack of proper sleeping arrangements at home meant getting the children to school on time felt like a huge mountain to climb. School wasn’t far, but walking Robbie to school each day, with the baby in a buggy and a toddler staggering behind, was exhausting. On the days she couldn’t face it, Robbie missed school. 

Her relationship with school had broken down and she felt judged and attacked when teachers got in touch to talk about Robbie’s attendance, which had fallen to 76.5%. More than once, mum had been issued fines for Robbie’s poor attendance, putting further strain on the relationship between home and school. Missing so much school was impacting Robbie’s learning and behaviour. With home life so complicated and hard, getting Robbie to school on time was just one more thing Claire had to worry about.  

How did School-Home Support help?

Family Support Practitioner Julie has now been working with Robbie and his family for a few months. On paper Robbie’s attendance hasn’t improved yet, but the bridge between home and school is getting stronger by the day. 

Julie has taken the time to understand and tackle the barriers to school as Claire sees them. They’ve looked at her finances and got her into a position where she can access free debt support. Supporting her to switch to direct debit energy bills has helped ease the pressure on Claire and reduce some of her worries about the family’s finances.

Julie also utilised the School-Home Support’s Welfare Fund to purchase Claire a new bed, improving her sleep routines so that she can set a good example for her children, and making a huge difference for her mental health and wellbeing.

“We are still laying the foundations for good attendance, but it’s been wonderful to see how support with the practical challenges at home has improved Claire’s mental health, which is so key to her children’s educational wellbeing. I’m really optimistic that continued one to one support can make a real difference to the whole family as well as their relationship with the school.”

Julie, School-Home Support Practitioner

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