The importance of providing good mental health support for our young people

Written on 11 May 2017

It is inevitable that I, and I am sure countless others despair at yet another announcement about problems regarding the support of mental health.

My latest cause for real concern was to read that the House of Commons Health and Education Committees recently determined that whilst the root causes of adult mental health problems date back to before the age of 15, schools and colleges are struggling under severe financial pressures to provide adequate time and resource to support needy pupils. This includes the lack of provision of counsellors within schools and colleges.

The report highlights the benefits of strengthening mental health training and continuous professional development for teachers to ensure they are properly equipped to recognise the early signs of mental health problems in their pupils and to have the confidence to be able to signpost or refer to the right support.

Well done to the two Committees for their work and recommendations but in reading elsewhere about real-world reductions in mental health services nationally and similar pressures on schools' budgets, I am afraid that I remain highly sceptical.

Is there any relief to this gloom? Well yes, some. At least mental health is now discussed much more openly in newspapers, magazines, radio, TV and online. And whilst there are still some real taboos around the subject, particularly within the world of work, even there we now hear industry leaders talking openly about their own mental health illnesses e.g. Virgin Money boss Jayne-Anne Gadhia recently publicly explained how she overcame postnatal depression with the help of her employer.

Additionally more and more employers are committing to supporting staff experiencing mental health problems, some through signing up to the Time to Change (http://tinyurl.com/huwzbqh) commitment to end mental health stigma.

So things are improving at least for some of us but we really must do more to provide appropriate and sufficient support for our young people.

Perhaps make it another issue to quiz your MP about for the upcoming General Election?

If you've been affected by the topic that I've covered in this blog post, and would like to discuss your feelings, you can leave a public comment below. Alternatively, if you'd like to communicate with me on a one-to-one basis about any issues you'd like to discuss further, you can either email me or call me on 07946 517967.