In December last year the government published its green paper ‘Transforming children and young people’s mental health provision’ setting out measures it thinks could improve mental health support for children and young people.

The consultation asked people for their views on the green paper and the suggestions it set out and comes to a close this March 2018.

The green paper focused on early intervention and prevention of poor children’s mental health in schools and colleges.

Proposals included:

  • A new 4-week waiting time for NHS children and young people’s mental health services
  • Every school and college to appoint a designated ‘lead for mental health’
  • Creation of a new mental health support team based in the community that can provide schools support and training

Although if you dig deeper it looks like a lot of this won’t be rolled out until the end of 2022/23 and only to a fifth of the country.

What does the Local Government Association think?

  • Who is the LGA? The LGA is the national voice of local government, working with councils to support and improve local government.

The LGA think that 5% of the pledged £1.7bn to care for children’s mental health should be used to make it mandatory for every pupil in secondary and alternative education provision, to have access to on-site school counselling services.

it is calling for services to be properly funded, so that “all children and young people can have the bright future they deserve.” This is part of their ‘Bright Futures campaign’. 

What does the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) think?

The BACP say that they’re disappointed that the government has not included a commitment to universal provision of school-based counselling.  They say this misses as opportunity to deliver the most effective mental health support in schools and colleges.

It is also concerned about waiting time targets and the amount of training required to upskill designated senior leads in schools and members of a mental health support team.

The BACP are calling on their members to use the consultation period to contact their MP to let them know that “the Government is missing a golden opportunity to give all children and young people equal access to effective counselling interventions in our schools and colleges. The same rights as children and young people in Wales and Northern Ireland enjoy.”

What does Place2Be think?

  • Who is Place2Be? Place2Be provides emotional and therapeutic services in primary and secondary schools, building children's resilience through talking, creative work and play

Place2Be have conducted new research into mental health support at schools and have found that 45% of school leaders have found it difficult to commission mental health support for their pupils. And nearly half of schools didn’t know the right type of support to commission for pupils’ mental health.

They think that school leaders are already under immense pressure and that they shouldn’t be expected to become mental health experts as well. Instead, they say that skilled mental health professionals should be embedded inside schools as a whole school approach.

What does the British Psychological Society (BPS) think?

The BPS agree that early intervention and prevention is the best way to stop child mental health issues from escalating but they say they fear “that this is too little, too late and falls a long way short of achieving parity of esteem for mental health.”

They add that the fact that key proposals of the green paper will not be rolled out until the end of 2023 is of ‘considerable concern at a time of unprecedented numbers of children and young people experiencing mental health conditions.'

They point out that cuts have had a damaging effect on services that support children and that this particularly worrying in light of rising child poverty. 

What does the NAHT think?

  • Who is the NAHT? The NAHT calls itself the definitive voice of school leaders

The NAHT welcome the green paper and coworking between schools and the NHS as the biggest positive.

But they say that they are concerned that teachers who are ‘designated mental health leads’ will become too involved in diagnosis and treatment and don’t think that should be the role of an education professional.

They hope that the roles schools can play in supporting child mental health will be emphasised rather than replacing specialised children’s services.

Buy your ticket for our The Mental Health Study Day happening in London this May 2018 designed to enable mental health professionals to develop their skills and understanding to provide the best possible service. The plenary session will address mental health in schools.