A survey of headteachers has found significant gaps in the ‘critical’ treatment of their pupils’ mental health needs.
The survey was carried out by the CentreForum thinktank’s mental health commission. It found that headteachers at more than half of the schools in England believe that the referral system for sending pupils to child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) is not working, the Guardian reports.
Chair of the Commission, Paul Burstow MP stated, “The results of this survey suggest schools and young people are often let down and left to fend for themselves”.
He mentioned further that three children in every classroom would be affected by mental health problems. “With a price tag of up to £60,000 per child per year, the life-long impact of mental illness on young people and their families is something we can’t afford to ignore.”
There are many factors that headteachers mention as the reasons as to why mental health amongst young people is uprising such as economic and financial pressures, parental relationships and the impact of online social networks. They stated that this has a direct effect on pupils’ behavioural and emotional problems.
However, when schools refer pupils to mental health services due to their needs being too complex for staff members to manage, 54% have reported that the referral system is ineffective.
Chair of the Children and Young People’s Mental Health Coalition, Professor Dame Sue Bailey stated, “School is a critical environment where young people should be able to flourish across all domains of their lives. The gaps and concerns this report so clearly identifies reinforce the need to provide young people with the help, support and self-empowerment to develop and maintain resilience to stay mentally healthy in order to achieve and develop to their full potential.”
The government has established a taskforce that deals with child and adolescent mental health, but is still seen by many (including politicians) as a neglected area.
The Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg stated, “Schools would never ignore a child with a physical health problem, so the same should be true of mental ill-health too. Early intervention is crucial in tackling mental health problems, which is why school leaders have a major role to play”.
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