In the American sitcom Frasier the lead character played by Kesley Grammar signs off from his radio broadcast by wishing everyone “Good Mental Health”
This US television show has been very popular in the UK for a number of years whereas the issue of Mental Health itself has been something that we have largely ignored or have been reluctant to address proactively in both adults and children.
Some organisations such as MIND have been at the forefront of the issue for many years but now supported by some unexpected sources, namely the Royal Family and the Government the issue is coming out of the shadows and highlighted as an extremely important matter that no one can ignore.
The Prime Minister Theresa May at the Charities Commission Jan 2017 said the following “Let me be clear; mental health problems affect people of all ages and all backgrounds. An estimated 1 in 4 of us has a common mental disorder at any one time. The economic and social cost of mental illness is £105 billon –roughly the same as we spend on the NHS in its entirety. And for children -1 in 10 of whom has a diagnosable condition –the long term affects can be crippling”
The inference here is that Mental Health should be on a par with Physical Health in terms of support and resources.
Schools of course have been aware of the issue of Mental Health for some time and have been taking the initiative regarding meeting the needs of children by addressing issues of Wellbeing and Happiness.
Some schools and organisations however have made this more of a priority than others.
As a result in order to provide more rigour and consistency in all schools the Department for Health and the Department for Education launched a Green Paper in December 2017 entitled Transforming children’s and young people’s Mental health provision
The headline points of the paper can be summarised as working towards achieving “The 3 pillars of Mental Health support” which aim to provide the following:
- A Mental Health (MH) lead in every school and college
- New Mental Health support teams throughout the land
- Reduced waiting times for those affected
It’s a detailed document however some of the key points are listed below
- There will be 8 initial areas created to test different crisis approaches for Children and Young Persons MH and testing of new care models. These 8 areas shall be known as “MH Trailblazers”
- 50% of all cases of MH occur before age 14. Early intervention is therefore crucial
- Schools and Colleges are to be at the heart of MH interventions
- MH issues impact on increased disruption in schools and risk of School Exclusion
- The ratio of MH issues is at 11% in Boys and 8% in girls
- The importance of family was highlighted. Also the fact that many children with MH disorders also have parents with MH issues
- MH is incorporated into the new SEND Code of Practice through the term SEMH which replacedprevious terms for behavioiur issues such as SEBD
- Emphasis of MH training in initial teacher training
- A new Ofsted inspection framework will be introduced from Sept 2019 to consider MH and Wellbeing
- Greater support for Transition stages for children to adult services
- The training and leadership of teaching staff is the core issue and will be vital to successful management
- Of teachers surveyed in 2016 only 40% felt that they could handle MH issues
- The relationship with MH issues and bullying was highlighted as a major factor to be considered
As you can see it is a very ambitious proposal and like most things “the devil will be in the detail” however the document is very specific in how it sees that Education and not Health will lead on MH identification and early intervention.
Training of teaching staff at many levels is mentioned many times as a key priority and all schools will be accountable to new OFSTED inspections on MH and Wellbeing.
But the really good news is that the issue is now something we will be talking about a lot more and therefore we will be more effectively able to support those who are often suffering in silence.
Please see details of my new training course Good Mental Health