Children and Young People’s Mental Health-The Role of Education

ACP members would be interested to know that on 2nd May 2017 the Education and Health Committees published their first joint report for the year on ‘Children and young people’s mental health-the role of education’.  The committees acknowledged that the “education system has a front-line role in children and young people’s mental health and well-being” yet the evidence that was presented to them during their inquiry made it clear that there was a “growing prevalence of mental ill-health among children and young people, particularly for behavioural and emotional conditions such as anxiety, depression and conduct disorders.”

The committees focused on three areas that they believed needed improvements to encourage better mental health amongst children and young people. Those three areas were: well-being in schools and colleges, mental health support in education providers and social media. The inquiry led the committees to make 11 recommendations covering all three areas. Their recommendations ranged vastly from simple measures such as providing teachers with more mental health training, ensuring parents are provided with resources to tackle the growing adverse effects of social media use on children and young people’s mental health. Child and adolescent psychotherapists would  be reassured to hear the committee’s recommendations for CAMHS:

  1. A structured approach to referrals from education providers to CAMHS must be developed across the country. We have seen cases of strong partnerships between mental health services and education providers, but such links do not exist in many local areas. (Paragraph 32)
  2. We are encouraged by the results of the CAMHS link pilot and are pleased that the pilot has been extended. We recommend that the Government should follow the advice of the evaluation and commit resource to establish partnerships with mental health services across all schools and colleges. The variation in access for children and young people to timely assessment and support for mental illness is unacceptable. (Paragraph 33)

The Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust, which has been commissioned to run Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) by the Camden Clinical Commissioning Group and Camden Local Authority, organised an event that saw some ACP members speak to 13 MPs about their work and services. Victoria Blincow, Coordinator of the Tavistock Schools Service and Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist and ACP member, stated that the MPs seemed “very interested in hearing about the clinical Tavistock services in all 50 schools in Camden.”  The committees displayed a genuine interest in understanding the issues facing the mental health sector today and in doing so formulating meaningful recommendations for changes that in the long-term can have a positive effect on the mental health of future generations.

The committees urged the incoming Government to follow through with the pledge made in January 2017 to release a Green Paper on children and young people’s mental health as soon as possible in the new Parliament. In doing so they also requested that the new Government consider their recommendations.  However, they noted that the report was shorter than they had hoped due to the unexpected call for an early election. 

To read the full report, click here