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MPs call for national mental health referral scheme in schools


By Carolyn Wickware
2 May 2017

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Leading MPs have called for a ‘structured approach’ to referrals from teachers to children’s mental health services on a national level.

In a joint report by the Education and Health Select Committees, MPs have said resources should be committed to setting up partnerships between schools and mental health services in an effort to improve children’s wellbeing at school.

NHS England and the Department of Education launched a pilot scheme linking 27 CCGs with 255 schools to improve communication and referral routes between the two sectors.

Leading MPs have called for a ‘structured approach’ to referrals from teachers to children’s mental health services on a national level.

In a joint report by the Education and Health Select Committees, MPs have said resources should be committed to setting up partnerships between schools and mental health services in an effort to improve children’s wellbeing at school.

NHS England and the Department of Education launched a pilot scheme linking 27 CCGs with 255 schools to improve communication and referral routes between the two sectors.

The committee report said the outcomes of the pilot were encouraging and the government should extend the scheme to all schools and colleges, adding that ‘variation in access for children and young people to timely assessment and support for mental illness is unacceptable’.

However the report added that schools are struggling to provide adequate time and resource for pupils’ wellbeing as an increasing number of schools are having to cut back on mental health services, such as in-school counsellors.

This is despite a growing prevalence of mental illness in children and young people with half of all cases of mental illness in adult life starting before the age of 15.

Chair of the House of Commons health committee, Dr Sarah Wollaston MP, 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 wellbeing.’

While the report praised the Government’s decision to make personal, social, health and economic education (PSHE) mandatory in schools and colleges the MPs said the promotion of wellbeing cannot be confined to PSHE lessons.

Neil Carmichael MP, chair of the House of Commons education committee, said schools and colleges ‘have a front line role in tackling mental ill health and promoting well-being’.

He said: ‘We have heard, however, that financial pressures are restricting their ability to run services. Schools and colleges must be well resourced to provide on-site support and make referrals where necessary.’

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