On the 4th December 2017 the Department for Education launched its long-awaited Green Paper on mental health provision for children and young people. The consultation is open until midday on 2nd March 2018.
In the attachment section of this page, you can find a briefing written by ABA's host organisation, the National Children's Bureau, for MPs outlining their key questions for the government in relation to the Green Paper.
Improving children’s mental health is an urgent challenge for policy makers and professionals in the UK. Recent research suggests that at age 14, one in four girls and one in 10 boys have symptoms of depression.[i] There is evidence that the problem is intensifying, with a recent survey of school leaders reporting a dramatic increase in the number of students suffering from mental health and wellbeing issues.[ii] Meanwhile, specialist support is becoming increasingly difficult to access. The average maximum waiting time for a first appointment with children and young people’s mental health services is 26 weeks (42 weeks until the start of treatment).[iii] The Prime Minister has described this as one of the ‘burning injustices’ of our time, pledging to ‘transform’ the way the country deals with mental health problems ‘across society and at every stage of life’.[iv]
The Green Paper contains welcome proposals, including:
- Funding for a senior member of staff to lead on mental health work in schools. This should help to promote a “whole school approach” to good mental health and wellbeing.
- Mental Health Support Teams to provide cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) and other support to children who do not qualify for specialist NHS services, to improve early intervention; and
- Four-week waiting time targets for specialist services.
We particularly welcome the clear role for schools, and the emphasis on prevention and earlier access to support. However, we are concerned that the timeframe and associated resource lack ambition and urgency whilst thousands of children across the country wait for the support they need.
In relation to specifically to bullying: The Green Paper includes evidence that school-wide anti-bullying programmes are cost-effective and have the potential to reduce bullying levels. Evidence shows young people with mental health issues are particularly at risk of experiencing bullying, both face to face and online. Similarly, people who have been bullied are at significant risk of developing mental health issues both in childhood and in later life.
We believe the Government should state explicitly that the new Senior Leads for Mental Health in schools will have responsibility for tackling bullying as part of a whole-school approach to mental health.
[i] NCB and the UCL Institute of Education (September 2017) ‘Mental ill-health among children of the new century, trends across childhood with a focus at age 14' https://www.ucl.ac.uk/ioe/sites/ioe/files/patalay_fitzsimons_mental_ill-health_among_children_of_the_new_century_-_september_2017.pdf
[ii] National Children’s Bureau and ASCL (2016) Keeping young people in mind https://paperzz.com/doc/7829058/keeping-young-people-in-mind
[iii] Frith, E. (2016) CentreForum Commission on Children and Young People’s Mental Health: State of the Nation.
[iv] ‘The shared society: Prime Ministers Speech at the Charity Commission annual meeting’ (January 2017) https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/the-shared-society-prime-ministers-speech-at-the-charity-commission-annual-meeting.