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Funding and training for schools and mental health services required for close working, say NAHT

The Young People’s Mental Health Commission of the Education Policy Institute published a new report on 15 November, Time to Deliver, calling for a Prime Minister’s challenge on children and young people’s mental health.

The report represents the Commission’s work over the last year, reflecting on progress made in transforming services following the government’s investment of £1.4bn, announced in 2015. Time to Deliver sets out a number of new findings, and proposes a series of recommendations which it urges the government to adopt through the Challenge. This includes an ambitious programme of changes covering research and prevention, early intervention and improving access to quality services.  

Russell Hobby, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, comments: “NAHT welcome this call for more focus on young people’s mental health. 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.

“NAHT have also repeatedly identified the gap in 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.

“As previous reports from the Young People’s Mental Health Commission have shown such services are under serious pressure from increasing demand, growing complexity and, perhaps most importantly, decreasing budgets. Health services face the same barriers to effective provision that schools do – workforce recruitment and funding. Currently almost a quarter of under-18s referred to mental healthcare providers are turned away. 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.

“School leaders agree that there needs to be closer working between mental health services and schools, focusing on early intervention rather than waiting until children reach crisis point. We would urge the government to fund both schools and mental health services sufficiently and to provide the required training to enable this close working to take place.”

Access the report: Time to deliver 

First published 11 January 2018