This Children’s Mental Health Week, we’re taking a look at school absences due to mental health.
Before we get into the numbers, just a quick note on the data: the figures used for this report are based on illness absences reported by parents via Studybugs. The data comes directly from parents and has been collected anonymously with their permission. This data is unique to Studybugs and published for the first time here. See ‘Where Does This Data Come From?’ below for more detail.
What we’ve noticed is that the number of mental health reports we’re processing has climbed significantly since pre-Covid times and has remained stubbornly high since.
See for yourself below.
The Overall Picture
As you can see from the graph above, following the Covid-19 school closures, many more parents have been mentioning mental-health-related terms in their absence reports to schools. The number has more than doubled since before Covid, and remains high this year.
Looking into the data, there are some further interesting points worth calling out.
The Story This Year
Compared to 2018/19 (the last full year before Covid-19 school closures), several symptoms and conditions make up a higher percentage of all illness absences, including anxiety, fatigue, stress and suicidal.
What’s interesting is the contrast with the previous school year (2021/22). In both of these post-Covid years, the total number of mental health illness absences is higher, but there are differences between the specific complaints. The most notable of these is ‘fatigue’, which made up 1.46% of all sick reports last year, but 0.76% this year.
What Does This Mean For Schools, Trusts and Local Authorities?
As with all school absence, it’s important to identify the underlying reasons for absence and to intervene early to address them. With absences due to mental health, consider how your attendance policies address mental health and what you can do to support pupils in this respect. The first step is, of course, identifying where there are problems.
Act Now to Protect Pupils’ Mental Health
That’s where Studybugs can help. As well as tracking symptoms, Studybugs provides tools for schools, trusts and local authorities to address the underlying reasons for absence, including mental health.
We can monitor absences and attendance trends, drawing your attention to any cases you need to investigate. This makes it possible to spot problems early and quickly take action to address them.
To discuss how Studybugs can support your efforts,
Where Does This Data Come From?
The figures used for this report are based on an analysis of particular trigger terms in absence reports submitted by parents via Studybugs. No school data is included in this analysis.
Over the past few years we’ve processed nearly two million such reports and have built up a unique perspective on the illnesses underpinning school absence.
If you would like to see the (anonymised and aggregated) underlying data behind the figures mentioned above
— Lucas Abbott