38% rise in primary school children referred for mental health support

Figures released by 53 of the 66 health trusts who provide mental health support to young people have shown an increase of 38% primary school children referred for such assistance over the past three years, as reported by the BBC.
With various issues inside and outside of schools contributing to the steep incline, nearly 19,000 children were found to have issues such as stress, anxiety and depression…and that figure only includes children who have been identified with mental health concerns. The real number could be much higher.
The BBC also reports thatone-third of those referred to Child Adolescent Mental Health Services (Camhs) were declined help… with a demand for support placing the system under real pressure.’
The government responded by stating, “making sure children and young people get the right support when they need it is imperative. That is why are allocating £300 million, over and above the additional £1.4bn being invested in specialist services, to provide more support linked to schools.” Yet such a venture came under scrutiny last week with MPs describing the plans as ‘unambitious’ and likely to miss thousands of children.
Sarah Hannafin, senior policy adviser at the National Association of Head Teachers, stated to the BBC: “More than a third of referrals are not accepted. Schools have referred these pupils because they are concerned about their mental health and know that the child needs more support than could be offered at school. The concern is about what support those children can get if they have been turned down by Camhs.”
Whilst children wait and issues bubble, the problems can take an even greater hold of that person’s wellbeing. Our latest guest blog from Julian Stanley of the Education Support Network identifies the importance of teachers raising their own mental health problems early and it should be the same protocol for young people.
NSPCC chief executive Peter Wanless explains, “our research shows schools are increasingly referring children for specialist mental health treatment, often when the child is at crisis point.”
It is during the early stages of identification that Evolve Health Mentors combine forces with school staff to intervene. Rather than waiting, or even being rejected, for other services, Evolve utilise their preventative programme Project HE:RO to provide mentoring support and guidance for young people.
Bespoke sessions tailored to meet the needs of each individual ensure that pupils have a support system in place that makes a positive impact on their wellbeing.

Damon Fox, National Sales Executive for Evolve provided this statement on the recent statistics:
”The system is currently flawed and I have got closer to this area in my last year in my role with Evolve. I have heard various comments from people working in education saying unless a child is threatening suicide or showing signs of self-harming they will not be seen by CAMHS. I have also attended multiple CAMHS Conferences in the last year and a half with people from the service and NHS saying they should be based in the schools for easier access for pupils.
There is not a lot of talk at these events of preventative programmes rather than programmes that are there to support when mental health is being flagged up by children and families. We have been impacting on schools with our specialist Health Mentors who form relationships early with these pupils to allow them to talk about mental health, but also support the school staff who already under stress themselves because of the education pressures. These staff don’t always the capacity to be Mental Health practitioners too.”
Graham Morgan, Chairman of Evolve, added:
“The challenge of dealing with children’s mental health now exists alongside that of dealing with problems about their physical health – the rising levels of inactivity and obesity over the years that lead to children presenting conditions that normally occur later in life such as heart disease, stroke, Type 2 Diabetes etc. Unfortunately, as for the physical health challenges, failing to have foreseen and planned for the problems ahead by creating an impactful preventative intervention, the children’s mental health Tsunami is heading rapidly towards a system already unable to cope.
It is time we realised that the physical and mental health of children must be an absolute priority for our education and health systems and supported by specialist, upstream programmes such as Project HERO. Another lesson to be learned is that trying to deal with children’s health and wellbeing issues through the filter of sport does not work. Too many claims are being made for PE and competitive school sport that are simply not backed up by health statistics. Expecting teachers to step up yet again to solve the problem is not realistic. They are already performing heroics to cope with the stresses put on them by an education system that gives to much focus to exams – something that causes incredible stress for teachers and pupils alike.
Evolve Health Mentors, carefully recruited and uniquely trained to support physical health, emotional wellbeing and cognitive development of children, provide a signpost as how an upstream preventative intervention may be delivered in schools.”
To find out more information regarding Project HE:RO, read some of our stories on the Evolve blog page or contact Josh Cronin on josh@evolvesi.com.