‘Unambitious’ government mental health plans come under scrutiny

Mental health issues in schools are not a new concern. Around 10% of young people aged between 5 and 16 have a diagnosable condition with an estimated 50% of problems established by the age of 14. These statistics have been presented in numerous articles and publications in recent months and years.
Coping with such problems are not easy at the best of times. Yet with exam season now focussing the attention of numerous young people across the country, issues such as anxiety, stress and depression will be taking an even greater hold of far too many children in the United Kingdom.
The government had issued plans at the end of last year to combat the crisis but they have this week come under scrutiny by MPs. Plans to cut waiting times and roll out mental health first aid in schools have been criticised with the headline, ‘rolling out the plans to only ‘a fifth to a quarter of the country by 2022-23’ is not ambitious enough,’ as reported by the BBC.
Ironically, the Department for Education have just updated their Supporting Mental Health in Schools and Colleges survey, outlining some alarming statistics surrounding excluded pupils.
FE News reports that one in two excluded pupils experience recognised mental health problems…estimates suggest this might be as high as 100% once undiagnosed problems are taken into account.’
The data goes on to outline ‘government data has shown that only one in a hundred children who have been permanently excluded from mainstream schools go on to receive five good GCSE grades.’
The report indicates that a ‘broad range of activities’ and ‘identifying and supporting those with identified needs…through a shared ethos’ is the most effective way of promoting positive mental health.’
Research suggests that such approaches have been particularly effective when working with external services. Evolve deploy specially trained Health Mentors to provide physical and emotional health and wellbeing sessions to support children between one and five days per week during the academic year.
The Department for Education survey outlines. ‘institutions referred to and/or worked in tandem with external mental health services to offer specialist provision.’
Despite concluding that ‘combining teaching skills with mental health expertise can better respond to the complex educational and health needs of the most vulnerable pupils, helping them to get back on course to achieve their potential,’ MPs believe that not enough is being done soon enough.
They have called for more support with early intervention, exam pressures and groups more prone to mental distress with Rob Halfon, chair of the Education Committee, calling for ‘urgent action by the government to address the mental health issues which children and young people face today.’
Dr Sarah Wollaston, chair of the Health and Social Care Committee, also told the BBC that ‘services should be joined up in a way which places children and young people at their heart and that improves services to all children rather than a minority.’
However, whilst the government gradually introduce and analyse their new plans to support the crisis, Evolve continue their fight to support as many young people as possible across the country. Read more about what our Health Mentors do right here.