The Government has announced that the level of mental health support in schools will be boosted with all young people and children in England able to access the support they need.
Among the proposals is for the introduction of a four week waiting time for those wanting specialist support and also improved support for schools.
The scheme will see the new services being delivered by 2022 for one in four schools in England.
The chief executive of Young Minds, Sarah Brennan, said the proposals are welcome but are ‘a start’.
She explained: “We want young people and children to have a long term plan for mental health.”
‘Root and branch reform’ in mental health services
A consultation has now begun and recently the Local Government Association announced that it wants to see ‘root and branch reform’ in mental health services for the country’s schools.
The Association’s chairman, Richard Watts said: “We can’t have a system that leaves thousands of families and children in distress.”
The health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, said: “About half of mental illness will begin before 14 so it’s important that children are supported when they need help.”
He added that working to catch issues early will help prevent them from ‘turning into something serious and treat it.’
The new proposals have also been backed by Justine Greening, the education secretary, who said that addressing and also preventing mental health problems among young people and children early is key for success.
She said there needs to be more expertise in schools and improved co-ordination between services and schools as well as boosting waiting times so young people and children can access care more quickly.
She also added that some schools are currently having to deal with issues ‘more independently than we like’.
Mental health provision in schools
The government’s aim for mental health provision in schools has been called ambitious by some, particularly since children’s services are already stretched.
In announcing the move, Mr Hunt said: “Every school (in England) will have a senior mental health lead who is trained to understand about what the condition might be and also the help those that need it.”
He added that the mental health lead in the school will then be able to create a programme that will help those with mild-to-moderate needs access help early and quickly.
For youngsters with severe mental health needs, the government says that the waiting times to access NHS help will be made much shorter.
The government’s proposals will see an additional £300 million being injected over the next three years to help fund the scheme. The first areas will have the new structure in place by 2019.