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Tuesday, 02 May 2017

Schools 'struggling to provide mental health services for pupils'

Written by Helen William

Schools and colleges are struggling to provide adequate time and resources for pupils' well-being, MPs have said.

Financial pressures are putting a squeeze on the provision of mental health services, such as in-school counsellors, at a time when there is growing concern about the state of mental ill health among youngsters, according to the Health and Education Committees.

In a joint inquiry into children and young people's mental health, they found that half of all cases of mental illness in adult life start before the age of 15 and that one in 10 children aged between five-16 have had a diagnosed mental disorder.

They are calling for changes in the curriculum and ongoing work with teachers and support staff to be part of a drive across schools and colleges to promote well-being.

Inspections and reports by the Ofsted schools watchdog should also take this approach into account, they suggested.

Social media providers also need to be alert to the dangers of harmful content and its potential impact on someone's online safety. Too much social media use is linked to sleep deprivation and depression in youngsters, they point out.

Dr Sarah Wollaston, chair of the Commons Health Committee, said: "With half of all mental illness starting before the age of 15, and three quarters by aged 18, the Government and educators must ensure sufficient time is allowed for activities in schools and colleges that develop the life-long skills children and young people need to support their well-being."

Neil Carmichael, chairman of the Commons Education Committee, said: "Schools and colleges must be well-resourced to provide on-site support and make referrals where necessary."

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