Commenting on Access to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services in 2019, a report published today by the Education Policy Institute, Dr Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said:

“The EPI report makes for alarming reading and chimes with the concerns raised by our members. Schools across England are witnessing the impact of children and young people not able to access the specialist mental health support they need, when they need it.   

“The reality is that schools are picking up the pieces of a system that is failing so many children and young people. Teachers talk about the impact this has on their own mental health and wellbeing: ‘I spend most lunchtimes and 40% of my time nurturing children experiencing a range of mental health issues.  I get no support from the head and nobody to offload to.  I am currently working with 15 children who have been bereaved, have anxiety, have PTSD or a parent with a terminal/life threatening illness.’

“Cuts to schools have also drastically impacted on the support they can provide with our member surveys consistently highlighting cuts to pastoral support teams, including councillors and school nurses.

“We need to take a long hard look at the way we support children and young people's mental health and address the chronic underfunding of public services that has contributed to this mental health crisis.”