To mark World Mental Health Day, Prime Minister Theresa May has reaffirmed the government’s commitment to achieve “parity of esteem between mental and physical health”. With half of all mental illness starting by the age of 14, the government set out plans to address prevention and improve cross-sector working in education and health in a green paper published in December 2017.
The proposals aim to; create new mental health support teams, improve access to treatment in Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAHMS) by an additional 70,000 children and young people per year by 2020-21, and pilot a four week waiting time for access to specialist services. The government has pledged £1.4bn over five years to transform provision.
However, a new report from the National Audit Office (NAO) has highlighted several risks to improving access to children and young people’s NHS-funded services including:
“the government’s ability to understand progress is limited by significant weaknesses in data
the government does not have cross-government accountability arrangements in place to ensure plans are delivered as intended
NHS England cannot be certain that all of the additional £1.4 billion funding to date was spent as intended
slow progress on workforce expansion to deliver NHS services is emerging as a major risk".
Governing boards have a key role in promoting an ethos of pupil and staff wellbeing. Schools should adopt whole-school policies and procedures that help staff recognise and respond to mental health and emotional wellbeing issues.