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The mental health Green Paper has been published…

Author: Suzanne O’Connell

The Green Paper is a consultation document asking people for their views about how mental health support for children and young people might be improved.

It proposes:

  • the creation of a mental health workforce of community-based mental health support teams
  • the appointment of a designated lead in every school and college
  • the piloting of a four-week waiting time for NHS children and young people’s mental health services.

An image of two sihouettes of people with blue cogs

There is general agreement that the mental health of students is a real concern for many schools. The difficulties that schools face making referrals to child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) is often cited as one of the main issues. With shrinking budgets, it has become increasingly difficult for schools to find the resources themselves to deal with this escalating problem.

The Green Paper is intended to build on the publication Future in mind in recommending early intervention. A key part of the proposals is the introduction of Mental Health Support Teams to provide extra capacity. It is proposed that their work will be managed jointly by schools, colleges and the NHS and will focus on providing support for those with mild to moderate needs.

The Designated Senior Lead for Mental Health based in school would most likely:

  • be expected to promote whole school approaches to mental health and well-being and provide an overview through policies, curriculum and pastoral support
  • support the identification of at-risk children
  • create links with NHS services and be knowledgeable about what’s available
  • co-ordinate interventions that are being delivered within the school
  • support staff in contact with children with mental health needs
  • oversee the outcome of interventions.

It is recognised that training must be an important feature and the DfE expresses its commitment to continuing the programme of schools receiving mental health awareness training.

Debate is now on as to whether the measures proposed are too little, too late. The support teams for schools will take time to introduce, and we could see some parts of England still without one well into 2020 and beyond. Critics are anxious that the proposals will not sufficiently tackle the day-to-day difficulties currently being addressed in our schools.

The consultation, Transforming children and young people’s mental health provision: a green paper, can be seen here.

About the author:

Dr. Suzanne O’Connell is a freelance writer specialising in education. Prior to this, she taught for 23 years and was a headteacher of a junior school in Nuneaton for 11 years.

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