'Transforming children and young people's mental health provision': exploring the pivotal role of schools and colleges in promoting and supporting mental wellbeing

Jayman, Michelle (2019) 'Transforming children and young people's mental health provision': exploring the pivotal role of schools and colleges in promoting and supporting mental wellbeing. In: BERA Annual Conference 2019, 10-12 September 2019, Manchester. (Unpublished)

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The pledge to improve mental health support for children and young people has been echoed by successive UK Governments; most recently, a green paper (Department of Health & Social Care (DHSC) & Department for Education (DfE), 2017) outlined the pivotal role of schools and colleges in tackling the growing tide of psychological distress evident in classrooms. The increased focus on schools to deal with mental health issues underlines the need to prioritise prevention and early intervention in supporting mental wellbeing; research suggests (Kim-Cohen, et al. 2003) that more than half of all mental health conditions in adulthood are diagnosed before the age of 14. There is a strong rationale for proposing schools and colleges as ‘ideal’ settings for promoting wellbeing and supporting students with mental health issues; however, how equipped are they for managing the demands of the role and scale of the crisis?

A core proposal in the green paper (DHSC & DfE, 2017) is for all schools and colleges to establish a designated senior lead for mental health, responsible for overseeing their school’s approach to mental health and wellbeing. Leads are anticipated to work closely with newly created Mental Health Support Teams to improve collaboration between schools and specialist services, providing a wider range of support and interventions in or near schools and colleges. However, only 20-25% of England is estimated to have access to the service by 2023. Therefore, the current capacity for schools and colleges to deliver timely and appropriate support to vulnerable pupils remains hugely challenging, and whilst additional guidance (DfE, 2018) states that mental health leads will be incentivised and supported in their role, the nature and extent of this requires scrutiny. Findings from recent research on teachers’ experiences and staff perspectives of whole school approaches to promote and support mental health and develop resilience will serve as a starting point to explore pertinent issues including:
• What are the expectations on staff in supporting school mental health policies and practices?
• What support and training are provided?
• What evidence is there of improvements in mental health and wellbeing?

It is widely acknowledged that to make schools and colleges mentally healthy places for all who attend and work in them, a ‘whole school’ approach to mental health and wellbeing must be developed, but what does this look like? Undeniably, this requires attention at multiple levels, including the design of behaviour policies and the curriculum, academic and pastoral support, pupil and parent engagement, and how staff mental wellbeing is supported. All these factors and more, contribute to creating a mentally healthy, nurturing environment for children and young people and ongoing discussion and research is essential. In the wake of this unprecedented situation in education, informed discourse on evidence-based strategies to support schools and colleges promote mental wellbeing is called for. This ‘hot topic’ is relevant to all professionals working in schools and colleges and anyone who has an interest in children’s and young people’s mental health, which broadly agreed, is ‘everyone’s business’. This debate aims to:

• Provide a forum for delegates to share their experiences, good practice and concerns
• Consider the viability of the green paper proposals for schools
• Discuss what constitutes a ‘whole school’ approach and how to deliver it
• Propose how practitioners and academics in education can contribute to ‘Transforming children and young people's mental health provision’ through supporting schools and colleges in their pivotal role.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Other)
Subjects: Education
Medicine and health > Health promotion and public health
Medicine and health > Mental health
Depositing User: Michelle Jayman
Date Deposited: 24 Apr 2019 08:50
Last Modified: 28 Aug 2021 07:27
URI: https://repository.uwl.ac.uk/id/eprint/6012

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