Three children in every classroom have a diagnosable mental health disorder.
I’ll just let that sink in for a moment.
Formerly, a reasonably taboo subject, mental health in children and young people has been catapulted into the limelight by the former PM’s call for the nation to focus on mental health and by the very public Heads Together campaign, spearheaded by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, who are committed advocates of children’s mental health and emotional wellbeing.
That, and the government has pledged £1bn extra a year by 2020 – treating a million more people a year. So, we’re on the right track to tackling this very real issue.
Is this government intervention and high profile endorsement enough to end the stigma of mental health or bring mental health services up to the standards of those for physical issues? It’s a start.
The fact is that half of all lifetime cases of mental illness begin by age 14. So how do we support schools and colleges influence change and perception associated with mental health in order to provide the opportunity for young people to get the support they need.
Schools and colleges are under increasing pressure to provide mental health support for their students. Head teachers in schools across England have raised pupil wellbeing and mental health as one of their top concerns.
In a recent survey, 77% listed financial constraints as a barrier and 61% felt that there was a lack of services or qualified professionals locally.
Equipping teachers with the skillset to identify and help children and young people who are struggling is the first step in helping students develop resilience, emotional wellbeing and mental health.
Imagine the scale of impact schools and colleges could make by addressing mental health issues at their infancy. The benefits would be significant for the individuals and parents, the educational institutions and the NHS – positively influencing our country’s future workforce, indirectly improving Ofsted grading – pupils with higher levels of emotional resilience gain higher grades and improved attendance – and major cost-savings for the NHS.
The reality is, it all sounds sensible but with the challenges already facing the education sector, where do schools and colleges start?
With Academic Resilience. Which means students achieving good education outcomes despite adversity – and it’s a YoungMinds initiative about beating the odds.
YoungMinds is the UK’s leading charity committed to improving the emotional wellbeing and mental health of children and young people and we’re incredibly proud to partner with them to help achieve their objectives through our extensive education network.
They campaign, research and influence policy and practice. With over 15 years’ experience in delivering expert training into schools and colleges, YoungMinds is perfectly placed to help educational institutions strengthen planning, clarify priorities, increase knowledge and skills and improve services.
It’s a whole school approach to identify risk earlier and build resilience in order to close the attainment gap supporting institutions develop strategies, assess students’ mental health needs and plan a detailed approach to addressing those needs.
This is the opportunity to prevent poor mental health becoming a barrier to achievement. Surely it’s worth an initial conversation with YoungMinds?
Am I using the article as a bit of a launch pad for this programme? Yes, I am but hopefully you’ll agree that if there is an opportunity to support schools and colleges, surely it’s worth investigating.
Chris Wimshurst – Board Director of Education & Social Housing at Morgan Hunt