Loneliness, suicide and young people – the role of schools

The Samaritans recently wrote a report looking at loneliness and suicide in young people. It’s well worth a read – you can access it here. In the post below I’ve pulled out the key recommendation concerning schools as I thought this would be of interest:

“Schools, colleges and universities are crucial settings for reaching young people who are at risk of loneliness

Young people need to know that loneliness can often be a part of life. Relationships education should be rolled out in schools from the earliest opportunity to equip young people with the skills to identify and manage feelings of loneliness. In order to do this, the curriculum should include skills to help young people learn how to cope with feelings of loneliness, to explore perceptions of loneliness and develop strategies to connect with others and build meaningful relationships. As well as information on where and how to seek help for lonely feelings.

Recent data from the ONS found that starting school, college and university can be critical points of transition for a young person which could trigger feelings of loneliness. Likewise, around two thirds of the participants in our interviews reported feeling lonely at primary and/or secondary school. Therefore, a whole school, college and university approach must be taken to foster and develop positive emotional and social wellbeing. Policies should support all staff to create an environment where young people have the skills they need to identify their feelings, feel safe to ask for help and where issues such as bullying, which could trigger loneliness, are taken seriously and tackled. This approach is essential to embed relationships education and provide critical support to young people in education settings, particularly at difficult times of transition.

Governments should facilitate whole school, college and university approaches to emotional wellbeing and relationships education by including it in the curriculum and across education frameworks and policies. This should include teacher training, school inspection frameworks and local suicide prevention plans.”