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School nurses warned to expect ‘tsunami’ of mental health issues as new term looms

Nurses’ leader offers advice on what to expect from the new school year – and urges staff not to forget self-care
Return to school during the pandemic

Nurses leader offers advice on what to expect from the new school year and urges staff not to forget self-care

A school nurses leader warned of a tsunami of safeguarding and mental health issues for children as the new term approaches.

And School and Public Health Nurses Association (SAPHNA) chief executive Sharon White said when schools in England and Wales return in September, it is important staff keep an eye on themselves and their colleagues in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Weve all taken a personal and professional blow. There needs to be much more emphasis on self-care, she said.

Sharon White: There needs to

Nurses’ leader offers advice on what to expect from the new school year – and urges staff not to forget self-care


Picture: iStock

A school nurses leader warned of a ‘tsunami’ of safeguarding and mental health issues for children as the new term approaches.

And School and Public Health Nurses Association (SAPHNA) chief executive Sharon White said when schools in England and Wales return in September, it is important staff ‘keep an eye on themselves and their colleagues’ in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

‘We’ve all taken a personal and professional blow. There needs to be much more emphasis on self-care,’ she said.


Sharon White: ‘There needs to be an
emphasis on self-care’

Increase in calls to child helplines during lockdown

In addition, there has been a widely reported surge in calls to child helplines.

The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children revealed that from 6 January to 22 March it received 140 calls a week. This increased to about 185 a week during lockdown. 

Ms White said ‘we are anticipating a tsunami of safeguarding and mental health issues’ when schools reopen.

Tips on how to prepare for autumn term 2020

To prepare, she advises school nurses to:

  • Take SAPHNA’s free training on trauma in children and young people. 
  • Look through records of vulnerable children known to the school. 
  • Continue to use digital services such as text messaging for children and young people who do not feel comfortable talking face to face.
  • Be alert to a possible increase in anxiety levels among children, young people, and families from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) groups as a result of the disproportionate number of COVID-19 deaths in the UK's BAME communities.

Nurses will need to lead on infection prevention in schools

‘School nurses have done some great work during the pandemic to give information to parents and children,’ said Ms White.

She said school nurses' work will be key to infection prevention.

‘Until we get a vaccine for COVID-19, we are in charge of how prevention in schools is run,’ she said.


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