Responding to the Education Policy Institute report on ‘Access and waiting times in children and young people’s mental health services’, Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT said: “This report highlights the barriers children face in seeking access to mental health services, and backs up what school leaders have been telling us. Our survey with Place2Be in February this year revealed that more than half of school leaders in the primary phase believed that it was difficult to access mental health services for pupils. Schools have been trying to help their pupils by plugging the gap in the provision of specialist mental health services but our secondary survey revealed that funding cuts meant that nearly a third of heads were cutting the services they could offer.
“It is essential that schools are supported by properly funded health and social care services rather than making up for cuts to those services. If support and funding is inadequate, many young people could continue to get a raw deal.
“We hope the government takes notice of this report and works with NAHT and others on the upcoming mental health green paper. Schools have a vital role to play in promoting and supporting good mental wellbeing and in the early identification of pupils with mental health needs, but need to have confidence that mental health services can be relied on to provide specialist support and treatment.”
James Bowen, director of middle leaders’ union NAHT Edge said: "Schools have always been on the front line with pupil's mental health because school is often where issues first become apparent. However, the services that schools, families and pupils rely on are under great pressure.
“The report highlights the difficulty of high thresholds for referrals. This is often leading to children and young people becoming stuck between school services that are doing all they can and NHS services that are not available until a crisis point is reached. This must be urgently addressed.”
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