Today (Wednesday 10 April), the Children’s Commissioner for England publishes a report showing the decline in local authority spending on ‘low level’ children’s mental health services.
The report comes as NAHT President Andy Mellor arrives in Westminster after a four-day cycle from Blackpool to raise awareness of children’s mental health issues.
Mr Mellor will also deliver a letter to the Prime Minister, in which he says: “NAHT members report a system in crisis, where unsupported children and young people are at best struggling to learn and at worst at serious risk. Schools refer children to specialist mental health services when they have legitimate concerns, but our members believe that the current thresholds for intervention are too high and waiting times for support and treatment are too long.”
A copy of the full letter is available on the NAHT website.
Mr Mellor and his small team of cyclists, including Jamie Peacock MBE, ex England and Great Britain rugby league captain, have cycled the 420 km / 261 miles from Blackpool to London and are hoping to raise a total of £10,000 for NAHT’s charity partner Place2Be.
Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said: “Early intervention is vital when it comes to mental health. A joint survey by NAHT and ITN showed that more than 87% of school leaders have had to re-refer the same pupil to children’s social care after an initial referral was rejected. Problems don’t just go away when a child is denied help – they only get worse. If a teacher who sees a child every day is concerned enough to refer a child for help, they must be taken seriously.
Dr Patrick Johnston, Director of Learning and Practice at children’s mental health charity Place2Be, said: “We believe that all schools should be able to access high quality mental health support. All the evidence and experience shows that being able to address problems early, and equip children with the skills to cope with challenges, has an enormously beneficial impact over the longer term and can help prevent adult mental ill-health. We’d also like to say a huge thank you to Andy Mellor and NAHT for highlighting the importance of work that Place2Be does and being our charity partner.”
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