Schools and experts discuss mental health in the House of Commons

Blog article by Dean Johnstone on the Round table event, 14 March 2018:

This week I was honoured to hold an exciting and insightful roundtable with our partner, LKMco, on the issue of school mental health. Supported by Mind’s Ahead generous Patron Norman Lamb MP, we were fortunate to be joined by a fantastic selection of participants from schools and organisations across the sector.

School leaders from Primary, Secondary, Further Education and Alternative Provision schools as well as mental health charities, universities, Child mental health specialists and commissioners, all came together to discuss this important topic. We were inundated by colleagues wanting to attend this event, showing the widespread interest in this vital issue.

We will produce a full report shortly, but some themes from the group include:

  • There is widespread recognition that the numbers and severity of mental health challenges in schools are increasing and are at very high levels. This needs to be addressed.
  • There is limited evidence on the preventative and early intervention work that schools can take. We need an evidence base.
  • Schools have a focus on education but also want to, and indeed already are, supporting mental health through a range of activities. Schools want to support mental health.
  • Schools require professional support and guidance on effective interventions and programmes that they can access. Schools deserve these resources.
  • The workforce needs developing to address some of the challenges around accessing specialist mental health support. School colleagues need this support.
  • Having an approach which makes strong links between schools and specialist services is important for any change to work. Collaboration is key to success.
  • A system wide approach, with an effective NHS funded specialist service, training and support for schools. Schools cannot do it alone.

As a result of this Minds Ahead will continue to make the case for a new school-based mental health professional. This person will not only support the whole school approach to mental health but will also be clinically supervised to provide mental health support for children with mild-moderate conditions. Such a role has the opportunity to raise the status of the mental health workforce.

It was great to be surrounded by so many colleagues and organisations committed to addressing these challenges and seeking to see a change which improves the lives of all children.