We received the following letter from the Department of Education in response to Mo’s thoughts on using counsellors in schools (see the post Counsellors can help schools cope). Let us know your thoughts.
I am writing on behalf of the Secretary of State to thank you for your email of 20 March about providing support in schools for students with mental health issues.
I can assure you good mental health, character and resilience are a priority for the government. We have launched a suite of Peer Support activities to help young people help their friends to talk about mental health issues. Funding of up to £1.5m, including a new digital innovation fund to develop reliable advice online to help them understand both their own, and their friends mental health, as well as how to interact safely online.
However, this is not just about services, unless we make real changes across the whole system, opportunities to build resilience, promote good mental health and intervene early when problems first arise, will continue to be missed. We are taking a targeted and phased approach to the additional investment to develop capacity and capability across the system. As you are aware, we have made funding available in this area of £1.4 billion over the course of this parliament for spending on children and young people’s mental health. This will be used to improve community based services so that young people are helped earlier and are less likely to need to go into hospital.
Teachers are not mental health professionals but they can see when things are wrong. That is why we are piloting the ‘single points of contact’ in schools and specialist mental health services so that knowledge and understanding of issues is shared and effective routes to specialist support are developed for those young people who need it.
The government is making sure that CAMHS not only change how they deliver to involve children, young people and families more, but to make sure that services work better with the other services children and young people use, including schools and colleges.
We know counselling is important to young people and they report high levels of satisfaction with how it helps them to deal with issues and reduce anxiety. We have revised and updated our counselling guidance on how schools can provide high quality school-based counselling. We would like to see even more schools providing counselling services and our guidance sets out an expectation that all schools, over time, should do this.
I would like to assure you the government is firmly committed to ensuring that young people have timely access to appropriate specialist support. Our ambition is to transform the mental health experience of children and young people by increasing knowledge, acting to destigmatise mental illness, and making specialist services more accessible and responsive to their needs.
Thank you for taking the time to write.
Ministerial and Public Communications Division.”