The petition referenced in this debate report called for mental health education to be mandatory in primary and secondary schools, in order to make this provision of a universal standard. The government response is that this is covered in personal, social, health and economic education (PSHE) with links to child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) being piloted in some areas, with a commitment to expanding this to improve access and education.
Estimates show the number of children who have mental health problems is around 1 in 10, and of these 75% do not access treatment. Partnerships with local services are essential as teachers are not mental health experts, hence concerns that the current provision is patchy.
As of 2017 the government plans to bring mental health first aid training to every secondary school in England. This will include advice on how to deal with issues such as depression, suicide, eating disorders, anxiety, and self-harm. The report also signposts resources previously produced, including a guide for counselling services in schools, and how and when to involve external support. Suicide prevention strategies need to be developed, so that a coordinated awareness across staff can provide support for at risk pupils.
PSHE education is not currently universally delivered, although government funding does go into supporting this, however statutory provision is being progressed. A joint report from health and education supported this move, calling for wellbeing to be promoted throughout the curriculum. They also call for levels of mental health and wellbeing inclusion to be recognised in Ofsted reporting. Reports from the Care Quality Commission (CQC), Education Policy Institute (EPI), and others echo the call for a higher standardised quality of mental health education across the country.
“We agree that a greater focus should be placed on mental health within schools. However, education alone will not address the epidemic that we currently face.
Wider systemic change is needed if we are to remove the stress and focus on academic performance that often leads to mental health issues, including the current accountability regime within our education system.”
-John Bishop, Evolve Managing Director
To read the full report, click here.