Schools-based strategy launched to improve children’s mental health care

A new government initiative is set to address the growing need for mental health services for children and young people in schools.

The strategy aims to improve the support and counselling available in primary and secondary schools for young people with mental health conditions, and will prioritise pupils’ wellbeing rather than focusing purely on league tables.

In a speech at the Children and Young People Now Awards, Sam Gyimah, education and childcare minister, is expected to acknowledge the problems with the current system and present his vision for improving what schools can offer.

“It’s right that we renew our focus on the character, resilience, and wellbeing of children and young people – it’s one of the department’s biggest priorities over the coming months,” the minister will say.

“So often it can feel like schools and teachers are judged purely on the results they achieve, on their standing in the league tables. But inextricably linked with academic successes are wellbeing, character, confidence – all of the ingredients that come together to create the whole child.”

“Where schools provide access to counselling services for their pupils, it can help develop a supportive culture, keeping pupils engaged with their peers, and with learning,” he said.

“I’m pleased to announce the development of a new departmental strategy that focuses on getting experts to distil what it is that makes for good counselling services in primary and secondary schools – and what the wider benefits can be, how we can unlock the potential of pupils, and work out when they need more specialist help.

“Because we know that more than half of adults with a mental health problem were first diagnosed in childhood, and of that number, fewer than half were treated appropriately as children.”

Thursday’s announcement is the first step in what the minister said would be a bigger push from the Department for Education on mental health in the coming months, taking in evidence from professionals and young people.

Full story