Schools Mental Health Proposals should go further, says Samaritans

Samaritans CEO comments on Government response to Select Committee’s report on Green Paper

“If we want to live in a world where fewer people take their own lives, there’s no bigger priority than the mental health and wellbeing of our children and young people. Learning to manage your emotions, and how to deal with life’s events and challenges, is as important as learning to read and write.

Within the Government’s proposals there are many good ideas, such as making sure there is a whole school approach to mental health and well-being by appointing a senior person with responsibility for it. But it shouldn’t stop there, all teachers need training so that they can develop a good understanding and help to change the culture of a school.

Making sure all staff, rather than just one person, feel involved and responsible makes it more likely that it will become a fundamental part of the school’s culture and the way it operates.

Setting up new mental health teams linked to groups of schools, providing support for students with mild or moderate difficulties and access to specialist help for pupils with more serious problems is something Samaritans would support.

We hope this will mean every young person gets relevant care as soon as they need it.

The timing is still a cause for concern though, because the proposed teams will only be available at most in a quarter of schools in England by 2022/23.

Samaritans volunteers are embedded in local communities and work extensively with schools already. Our DEAL resources support teachers to help pupils develop emotional resilience and coping skills.

Voluntary sector organisations, including Samaritans, and multi-agency suicide prevention groups must be invited to work closely with these new teams.

So, while we broadly welcome these proposals, we believe other measures need to be put in place to ensure more children and young people get the maximum benefit from them, and we are keen to offer our support with that in appropriate ways.

If we invest across the board in children and young people’s mental health now, equipping them with the skills and support they need for their well-being to flourish, we’ll be building a nation of adults more likely to be able to cope with whatever challenges the future holds for them.”

Samaritans CEO Ruth Sutherland


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