Green paper seeks to boost school mental health support

6 Dec 17

Health and education ministers have issued joint plans to improve the mental health support available to children in schools and colleges.

Views are being sought on three ideas set out in a green paper:

  • a named ‘mental health lead’ at every school and college who can identify early signs of distress and direct children to help;
  • funding for new mental health support teams, which will work across schools, colleges and the NHS;
  • a pilot scheme guaranteeing a four-week waiting time for access to specialist children’s services.

The green paper also proposes that a member of staff in every primary and secondary school in the UK be trained in mental health awareness.

According to the green paper, the government’s ambition is that “children and young people showing early signs of distress are always able to access the right help, in the right setting, when they need it”.

Schools and colleges should be “at the heart of our efforts to intervene early and prevent problems escalating”, it said.

Office for National Statistics data estimates that as many as 850,000 children in the UK – one in ten of all young people – could be living with a diagnosable mental health disorder, including anxiety, depression and conduct disorders.

It also shows that 7% children report having harmed themselves deliberately, a proportion which rises to 28% of children who suffer a mental health disorder. There is evidence that self-harm is rising sharply among teenage girls in particular.

The consultation on the green paper closes on 2 March 2018.

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