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Gap in provision of mental health services for children

Commenting on new information collected by the Children’s Commissioner on specialist mental health treatment for children, James Bowen, director of middle leaders’ union NAHT Edge, said:


“This report makes for worrying reading and proves that there is a gap in the provision of mental health services for young people. Teachers and SENCos are in a key position to recognise mental health difficulties in the children they work with. But school staff are not the qualified counsellors, psychologists and therapists that some children require, and school budgets cannot stretch to fund these services to the extent that they are needed.


“Schools need to be able to call on specialists to support those children who need it most, and will look to access services such as CAMHs or educational psychologists. But such services are under serious pressure from increasing demand, growing complexity and, perhaps most importantly, decreasing budgets. The lack of quick access to specialist support means that too many vulnerable children are not getting the help they need, when they need it, and schools are being left to pick up the pieces.


“There is a gap in provision between the work schools can do and when services such as CAMHs step in. Greater opportunities for schools to gain quick access to trained counsellors, specialist nurses and other trained professionals could really have a positive impact. There is an opportunity here for the education, health and social sectors to work together to ensure that there is an extra layer of support in place. Such an approach would mean that children, including those below existing referral thresholds, could be seen quickly by well-trained professionals.


“This kind of early intervention has the potential to reduce the pressure on services such as CAMHs and also to give schools confidence that there is someone they can turn to for support before a child or family reach crisis point. This will rely on proper and appropriate levels of funding.”


Russell Hobby, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said: “School leaders have identified pupil wellbeing and mental health as one of their highest concerns for the children in their schools. They know that if their pupils don’t feel safe, happy and well, they will simply not be able to learn effectively.


“We welcome the government’s commitment to allocate an extra £1.25billion over the course of this parliament to supporting children’s mental health. However, we feel there needs to be greater clarity in terms of how this money should be spent and the role schools should play in the delivery of such support.”

Page Published: 27/05/2016

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