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Green paper consultation on school children’s mental health

green-paperChildren in England will be able to access mental health support at school or college under Government proposals to transform services for young people.

The Government has set out ambitious plans in a green paper to increase mental health support and provide earlier access to services, with over £300 million funding available to take the proposals forward.

The announcement delivers on the Government’s manifesto commitment to a green paper focussed on action to support the mental health of children and young people. As the Prime Minister has set out, this is one of the burning injustices which holds people back from achieving their true potential.

Under the plans, every school and college in England will be incentivised to appoint a designated senior lead for mental health to co-ordinate existing school-based support as well as helping children to access specialist therapies and other NHS treatments if they need them.

Supported by a training package of up to £95 million from 2019, the senior leads will also be responsible for developing a “whole school approach” to mental health and wellbeing – including making sure pastoral support is available for all pupils and that strong policies are in place to reduce bullying and other behaviours that can cause mental distress.

A further £209 million will be available to create new Mental Health Support Teams which will improve join-up between schools and the NHS. The teams will provide a wider range of support and treatments in or near schools and colleges, to improve earlier intervention to so mental health problems can be addressed before they become too serious. Several thousand people are expected to be recruited over the next five years to form these new teams, which could be trained to offer Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) and other evidence-based treatments in the classroom.

Supervised by clinicians they will also work closely with educational psychologists, school nurses, counsellors, social workers and others to assess and refer children for other specialist treatments if necessary.

Other measures set out in the Green Paper include:

  • Ensuring every primary and secondary school in the country is offered mental health awareness training.
  • Ensuring teaching all pupils about mental health and wellbeing is a focus of our work to improve the quality of relationships education and PSHE.
  • A new working group to look at mental health support for 16-25 year olds.
  • Commissioning further research to fill evidence gaps across children’s mental health, including understanding how better to support vulnerable families.

The consultation on the green paper will run for approximately 12 weeks. The Department of Health and Department for Education will run a number of roundtables and focus groups to ensure maximum engagement.

To download the green paper, click hereThe consultation will be open for 13 weeks and closes at 12 noon on Friday 2 March 2018. DH and DfE will be setting up and taking part in a range of consultation events in the new year, including for children and young people. Further details will be available in due course.

The following email address youngmentalhealth@dh.gsi.gov.uk is now operational, for all stakeholder queries relating to the consultation.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said:

“Around half of all mental illness starts before the age of 14 so it is vital children get support as soon as they need it – in the classroom. If we catch mental ill health early we can treat it and stop it turning into something more serious. These ambitious new plans will work with schools to make sure this happens, as well as reducing waiting times for the most severe cases.”

Education Secretary Justine Greening said:

“We want every young person to grow up feeling confident about themselves and their future – but too often mental health issues can have a lifelong impact and affect their performance at school, careers and ultimately their life opportunities.

“There are great examples of schools and colleges across the country already playing a vital role in supporting students’ wellbeing and mental health. We want that kind of excellence to become the norm and these proposals will help deliver that by strengthening the links between schools and the experts who can give young people the support they need.”

Duncan Selbie, Chief Executive of Public Health England, said:

“Young people face many pressures earlier in their lives – from doing well at school, having the right image, and being popular online – and dealing with them is an important part of growing up. Everyone can help them do this and we’re working with the healthcare system and schools to have good early intervention and prevention strategies in place.”

Sarah Brennan, Chief Executive of YoungMinds, said:

“We’re facing a mental health crisis in our classrooms, and right now far too many children are not getting the support that they need. Too often we hear from young people who have started to self-harm, become suicidal, or dropped out of school while waiting for the right help.

“We are very pleased to see the Government recognise the fundamental importance that schools play in building resilience of their pupils and intervening early when problems do emerge. So we welcome the green paper’s proposals to introduce mental health leads in every school, as well as mental health support teams to offer support within schools as early as possible.

“The ambition for a four week waiting time is also welcome. Long waits have a devastating impact on young people and their families, and currently only one in four young people with mental health problems get the help they need. Now it is crucial that services are given the resource to match the true scale of need, so that all children and young people in need of mental health support are able to get it.”

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