In a recent survey by the Association of School and College Leaders, over half of the head teachers who took part said that they struggled to get mental health care for their students at a time when self-harm, cyberbullying and suicidal thoughts are at an all-time high.
53% of the school leaders in the ASCL survey who had referred a student to CAMHS said that the service had been poor or very poor.
Click HERE to read the BBC news item about this survey.
Mo says: As a counsellor who has worked within a private school for nearly ten years, I wholly agree with head teachers. There is a huge amount of anxiety and stress affecting young people today.
If you think about the difference between society today and society when I was school, or even when my daughter was at school, things are really different. There wasn’t so much hype around films and games and celebrities, we didn’t have social media and smartphones attached to our thumbs. There was no sexting. Parents didn’t go into debt just to buy a 40 inch tv or iPhones for their junior schoolers.
It’s great that the government is promising £1.4bn on children’s mental health services but what exactly will this be spent on?
If we assume that CAMHS offers a poor service because they don’t have the manpower (and ignore for now the possibility that it doesn’t offer the right service), then the first decision needs to be about creating more trained mental health workers. This is great in principle, but takes years.
I can’t help but think that there is an army of potential workers out there who could help to address this huge problem right now: counsellors.
Counsellors who work with young people provide a valuable option to families who slip through CAMHS cracks. They use CBT and other tools and props. They work with anxiety, depression, self-harming, abuse and trauma. Some schools have in-house counsellors. Others are able to offer a list of recommended counsellors to parents on request. I know from my own experience that parents are surprised at the effectiveness of counselling and grateful that the option existed for their child.
Counselling in schools is the future in my opinion, but monitoring is important and the counsellors have to be fully qualified. Trainees are simply not suitable for this kind of placement in order to ensure the safety of students and manage complex safeguarding concerns. As a minimum, the counsellors should have years of training, commit to regular CPD, and seek accreditation from their professional associations.
I think the Education Secretary and school governors and heads should look at the possibilities for support in the counselling community.
Thinking that CAMHS is the only answer, that its ok to keep referring to a service that is so oversubscribed and incapable of dealing with the scope of the problem, is only going to keep this problem growing. Money from the government will help, but these young people need help right now.
Newsflash in the 21st Century: kids are still in crisis and nothing has improved.
Leave a comment and let us know what you think. Do you see young people? Is it something you’ve considered but aren’t sure about? Have you worked with schools? What do you think about CAMHS?
Image: Stress by FireSam!, under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-ND 2.0) license.