A Cumbrian teacher believes it is time to tackle the growing mental health crisis facing the county’s children – by stepping out of the classroom.

Tess Colman says the current lack of funding for schools is impacting on the provision of support for youngsters suffering from anxiety and other psychological difficulties.

Tess, who has been teaching for 10 years, says her experiences in education, along with local and national research, led her to look much more closely at the issue.

This has seen her gain specialist qualifications and set up her own coaching courses aimed at boosting the mental well-being of children.

These start with a ‘confidence course’ for kids at Rheged, near Penrith, launched this weekend.

Tess said: “Throughout my teaching career in primary schools, I have encountered more children than I’d care to mention who find certain aspects of life a real struggle.

“There are all kinds of factors that come into play when we talk about the mental health and well-being of today’s young people.

“For example, social media and online gaming are widely acknowledged as key culprits of low self-esteem and social isolation. Complex family circumstances, as well as bullying, school-related stress, and negative body image have also been noted as contributing to the growing crisis among our youngsters.

“As teachers, we see the results of these issues, and many more, manifest themselves in various ways in our primary-aged children; for instance, lack of confidence, fear of failure, anxiety, inability to assert or stand up for themselves, excessive tiredness, being quiet and withdrawn, having no belief in themselves or their own abilities, and even feeling lonely.

“This can be heartbreaking to see, as we are witnessing young people who are not enjoying their experience of being children, let alone achieving their full potential as pupils.”

In Cumbria, a county councillor recently warned that as many as 500 children needed an assessment from Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS).

Nationally, 83 per cent of teachers in a National Education Union survey said mental health among pupils in England has deteriorated in the past two years.

A YoungMinds survey also showed that 94 per cent of teachers had noticed an increase in pupils showing mental health problems.

Tess, 34, added that, while there is now increased awareness and growing provision to help adults with mental health challenges, specialised help for children has yet to catch up.

She believes it is crucial to help children before certain problems become too ingrained or widespread.

Tess added: “In schools, teachers and brilliant support staff are working so hard to do just that – support children who are presenting with emotional difficulties whilst at the same time trying to help them achieve targets that can seem inconsequential in comparison.

“Unfortunately, the enormous financial cutbacks every school is now faced with makes it near impossible to access any extra or more specialised help beyond what the class teacher can offer.

“The recent Government Green Paper on mental health has recognised the need to train staff specifically in mental health in order to identify emerging problems in primary aged children.

“In Cumbria, we are still waiting for this level of support in our schools.”

In the last year Tess has undertaken further qualifications in coaching and mentoring, as well as qualifying as a specialised NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) Kids Practitioner, and has now launched her coaching courses with Connect3Coaching.

Tess, who currently teaches at Stanwix School in Carlisle, added: “I set up Connect3Coaching because I feel absolutely passionate about helping children learn to love being who they are.

“It is very empowering for children to discover that confidence isn’t something you are born with – it is something you learn. And as with any learning, practice makes progress!”

Tess is offering a free, no obligation trial session this Saturday to kickstart this month's Confidence Course at Rheged.

For more information, visit www.connect3coaching.co.uk or the Connect3Coaching Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/c3cservices/, or contact Tess on 07793108905.