A new approach for mental health?

One in ten children in the UK has a diagnosable mental health problem, a significant statistic once again highlighted this January as Theresa May outlined her new approach to mental health support. To provide some context...

The most recent set of statistics published by the Department for Education (July 2016) indicated that 17.3% of pupils have a primary need of ‘Social emotional and mental health’ (SEMH) and are on SEN support, and 12.3% of pupils have the same primary area of need and have a statement of EHC plan (pupils in state funded primary, secondary and special schools). For children on SEN support this is the third highest area of need after ‘Moderate Learning Difficulty’ and ‘Speech, Language and Communication Needs’; and yet many schools struggle to find the support they need to provide the best provision for pupils and their families.

So what does this new approach look like?

  • Offering every secondary school mental health first aid training.
  • Trials on strengthening links between schools and NHS specialist staff.
  • By 2021, no child will be sent away from their local area to receive treatment for mental health issues.
  • Review on improving support in the workplace to be led by mental health campaigner Lord Stevenson and Paul Farmer, chief executive of the charity Mind.
  • Employers and organisations will be given additional training in supporting staff who need to take time off.
  • Greater focus on community care such as crisis cafes and local clinic. An extra £15m to go towards this and less emphasis on patients visiting GPs and A&E.
  • The reallocation of £67.7m, for online services, such as allowing symptom checks before getting a face-to-face appointment.
  • A review of the "health debt form", under which patients are charged up to £300 by a GP for documentation to prove to debt collectors they have mental health issues.

At Pearson, we’ve signed up to the Time for Change mental health pledge and now have a team of colleagues trained as mental health first aiders. And it will be interesting to see how many schools take up the training and the impact that it has.

In the interim how can we best support you?

A recent survey, conducted by Pearson Clinical highlighted that 45.2% of contacts felt there was a lack of assessments/interventions available to help them support students and follow up conversations indicated that knowing which tools to use and where to go for support was a key concern.

One place to start is by exploring our range of assessments and intervention resources – including tools such as the Self Image Profiles (SIP), Resiliency Scales for Children and Adolescents and the Behaviour Assessment System for Children, Third Edition which helps to highlight behavioural issues and links to interventions so you can plan those important links to next steps. You can find out about all these measures online, as well as our intervention materials.

Last year, we also held a talk with Kat Dockery who had been part of a joint pilot between NHS England and the Department for Education and I’m keen to see the outcomes and how, or if, it will be rolled out to further sites. Look out for future events where we’re hoping to review this later this year.

Key things to take away:

  1. Look out for mental health first aid training to be offered to all secondary schools.
  2. Explore the features of the recent mental health pilot – can elements of this be replicated in your area?
  3. Know your statistics and share your best practice – take a look at Malcolm Reeves blog on Special Needs Jungle ‘Putting Social, Emotional and Mental Health at the top of our schools’ agenda’ they want your ideas!
  4. Sign up to sites like Heads Together – they have an excellent list of partners that can provide support.
  5. Start a conversation about mental health with your students – getting started is the hardest part and Heads Together (and other charities) have some key videos to support this.

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