Adopt whole school approach to mental health, committee says

The Health and Education Committees has published a report warning that financial pressures are restricting the provision of mental health services in schools and colleges.

The committees outlined an increasing number of education providers are having to cut back on mental health services, such as in-school counsellors, despite a growing prevalence of mental ill health among children and young people.

The report noted that half of all cases of mental illness in adult life start before the age of 15 and that one in 10 children aged between 5-16 have had a diagnosed mental disorder.

During their inquiry, the committees cited evidence of significant variation in how well schools, colleges and Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) work together and that such partnerships simply do not exist in many local areas.

The report recommended that a whole school approach to mental health and well-being should be properly taken into account and reflected in Ofsted’s inspection regime and reporting.

Dr Sarah Wollaston MP, chair of the House of Commons Health Committee, said: "With half of all mental illness starting before the age of 15, and three quarters by aged 18, the Government and educators must ensure sufficient time is allowed for activities in schools and colleges that develop the life-long skills children and young people need to support their wellbeing."

Neil Carmichael MP, Chair of the House of Commons Education Committee, said: "Schools and colleges have a front line role in tackling mental ill health and promoting well-being among children and young people. We have heard, however, that financial pressures are restricting their ability to run services. Schools and colleges must be well resourced to provide on-site support and make referrals where necessary."

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