NEU comment on EPI on Mental Health Services

Kevin Courtney, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, has commented on 'Access to children and young people’s mental health services', a new report by the Education Policy Institute.

“The EPI findings are distressing. Schools witness on a daily basis the costs of the Government's decimation of mental health services and the misery caused to families and children and young people in need of professional mental health support. For many parents the only route open to them is to pay for help privately. This of course is an option open for only a minority of families, leaving too many children without the early support so crucial in addressing mental health.

“Schools must be enabled to support pupils' mental health and promote well-being, but they cannot do it alone. In the majority of schools, pastoral systems and personalised support are being cut because of the real-terms funding cuts. Students need a qualified counsellor in every school but the current funding crisis is reducing, not widening, access to counsellors.

“A whole school approach requires adequate funding for professional involvement and not just a reliance on teachers being up-skilled. It must involve training teachers to have an understanding of pupils’ differing mental-health needs and include school leaders giving all staff the confidence to put pupil well-being first.

“The OECD reports that our children are some of the unhappiest in the world and reports show that exam stress is rising to the top of lists of what makes children and young people unhappy. This is as a direct result of many current education policies. The Government needs to reverse the ‘exam factory’ culture they have created in schools and colleges which impacts so heavily on the stress and anxiety levels of children from the age of four upwards. The nonsensical chasing of arbitrary targets reduces children and young people to a set of numbers and undermines their motivation and self-confidence. Our members are concerned about the link between pressure to achieve unrealistic rates of linear progress and children's anxiety levels.”



Press release
07 October 2018