Important developments to support mental health announced

This week, Theresa May's speech and a government response paper emphasised the government's commitment to improving mental health provision in general, and for children and young people in particular. We will look at the particular implications for schools.

Theresa May's speech about 'the shared society' covered several areas, but one of its main tenets was that mental health is a major concern to this country, as mental health problems affect 1 in 4 people at any one time. It is estimated that 75% of mental health problems develop before the age of 18; there are likely to be 3 pupils in every class with a diagnosable mental health issue, and these can have serious consequences not only for the individuals concerned but also for society.

Another report, from the Prince's Trust, has found that almost half of young people experience so many emotional problems at school that they are unable to focus on their studies.

So what are the implications for schools of these reports?

  • Every secondary school will have at least one member of staff trained in 'mental health first aid' by 2019. According to 'The Government's response to the Five Year Forward View for Mental Health' just published, an additional £1.4billion  is being made available over this parliament to help secure this.
  • The Care Quality Commission is to review the provision of Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) because the accessibility and quality of this service is currently patchy, and look at how well education and health work together.
  • A pilot programme on peer support will be launched.
  • The 'Time to Change' programme will have an investment of £20million, which focuses on improving young people's attitudes to mental health.
  • Preventative programmes for use in schools are to be evaluated.
  • There will be a report on the prevalence of mental health conditions in children and young people in 2018.
  • There will be a Green Paper, jointly produced by the DfE, The Department for Health and the NHS on children and young people's mental health later this year .

What should SENCos be thinking about?

Mental health and wellbeing is not just an issue for the SENCo or Inclusion Leader, but there is very likely to be overlap, particularly as pupils with SEND experience higher levels of mental health problems than those without, and you will have pupils whose primary need has been identified as 'SEMH'.

Make sure that mental health and wellbeing is a school-wide focus, for the whole community - does your school have a policy on it? Have you as SENCo been involved in writing it?

Have a look on the Mental Health First Aid website - they have some really useful resources, such as the 'Take 10 Together' toolkit.

Consider how you approach SEMH in your school - is it more than just a tick-box exercise? What do your pupils with SEND think and feel about the support they get with their emotional and mental health?

And keep looking out for developments in this area, particularly the training for secondary schools in Mental Health First Aid.

To read Theresa May's speech.

To read 'The Government's response to the Five Year Forward View for Mental Health'


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