At the start of Children’s Mental Health Week, the BBC is reporting warnings from headteachers that children’s untreated mental health issues could spiral into psychiatric problems later in life unless more is done in schools, with particular concern over the situation in primaries.
The National Association of Head Teachers says with a fifth of children having a mental health problem before age 11, it is a key concern.
A snapshot survey of 1,455 English heads suggests two-thirds of primary schools cannot deal with such issues.
The government says it has ring-fenced £1.4bn for children’s mental health.
Russell Hobby, general secretary of the heads’ union, NAHT, says: “We know the government is determined to improve children’s mental health but there’s still a danger that some children will take untreated mental problems into adulthood.”
Mr Hobby said three-quarters of school leaders had reported that they lacked the resources needed to provide the kind of mental health care that children need.
“Although increasingly common inside secondary schools, almost two-thirds of primary school leaders say that it is difficult to access local mental health professionals,” he said.
“Schools play a vital role in supporting children’s mental health and building their resilience – but rising demand, growing complexity and tight budgets can get in the way of helping the children who need it most.”
The chief executive of the mental health charity Place2Be, Catherine Roche, said children faced all sorts of challenges, such as coping with parental separation, the illness or death of a loved one, and dealing with substance abuse and domestic violence.
The vast majority of schools were already working hard to support children, she said, adding: “Teachers are not counsellors, and sometimes schools need professional support to make sure that problems in childhood do not spiral into bigger mental health problems later in life.”
Place2Be and NAHT believe all schools need access to, or should host, professional mental health services, and the government says it wants all schools to make counselling services available to their pupils in time…
See more about Children’s Mental Health Week 2016 from Place2Be
Do you agree with the suggestion that primary schools, in particular, lack the resources – either financial or in terms of support – to support children’s mental health effectively?
Please tell us where you think the gaps are and the impact they are having.
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