With Government’s plans to spend £1.25 billion on improving children’s mental health services over the next 5 years, this conference focused on priorities for children’s mental health - including measures to improve provision, commissioning and delivery.
It took place in the context of concerns of an emerging ‘time bomb’ of serious mental health conditions in England, with evidence that 75% of mental health problems in adult life (excluding dementia) start by the age of 18. It also followed the Children’s Commissioner’s Mental Health Lightning Review, which found that many children and young people are unable to access the mental health services and support they need.
The seminar was an opportunity to assess the progress that has been made in improving mental health provision for schoolchildren since the Children and Young People’s Mental Health and Wellbeing Taskforce’s first major report, Future in Mind, which called for the NHS, schools, voluntary services and local authorities to better integrate mental health provision.
Further sessions discussed steps to improve teachers’ awareness of mental health issues in school, including the role of the curriculum – assessing recent developments in this area, such as a new blueprint for schools on counselling services, the implementation of renewed guidance and mental health lesson plans, and the piloting of Heads of Wellbeing, who are responsible for staff training, educating parents and promoting wellbeing in schools. Delegates also discussed the role of schools in creating an inclusive environment for LGBT students, in light of the Government’s decision to invest £3 million in tackling homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying, and the evidence of a sharp rise in the number of children seeking gender identity advice within the NHS.