NAHT members report a serious – and growing – concern for children's mental well-being. The demand for professional mental health services has increased in recent years, but funding has plummeted. A poll of school leaders gathered in Liverpool for NAHT's annual conference 2018 showed 93 per cent are unable to access specialist mental health support for the children in their schools when they need it. Conference delegates also voted overwhelmingly to support a motion calling for the government to recognise the sheer scale of urgent improvements needed for mental health services across the country.
NAHT provided an in-depth written submission to the committees' inquiry and gave oral evidence at the select committee session. We are pleased to see that the Education and Health and Social Care (HSC) committees' joint report, The government's green paper on mental health: failing a generation, echoes our concerns and recognises that both health and education services are under great strain with significantly stretched resources, and workforce recruitment and retention concerns. The report draws on our evidence, and that of other organisations, to conclude that the green paper lacks ambition and provides no help to the majority of those children who desperately need it.
Most significantly, the report points out that the scale and pace of the proposals outlined within the green paper will leave hundreds of thousands of children with no improvements in provision for several years because only a fifth to one-quarter of the country will have access to the new proposals by 2022/23. In our submission, we were clear that the scale and pace proposed by the government's 'children and young people's mental health green paper' do not go far enough. Just 20 to 25 per cent of the country will be involved in a 'trailblazer phase' over the next five years. This means that significant numbers of schools, children and young people will not benefit because there will be little, or even no, improvement to the provision in their area. This can only exacerbate the existing inequalities in accessing timely treatment and support for children and young people.
NAHT will continue to campaign to make sure that schools are well supported by health and social care services and to press for a fully-funded universal rollout of mental health and well-being support in all schools, which will allow schools to fulfil their role in promoting pupil well-being rather than making up for cuts to other services.
First published 10 May 2018