Next week we will blog our thoughts on the recommendations of recent reports (from the NSPCC/ChildLine and the House of Commons Health Committee) on the wellbeing and mental health of children and young people, and on how those reports relate to the UN Declaration on children’s rights.
The following is the text of our recent letter to the Guardian.
The wellbeing and mental health of our young people are increasingly seen as major causes of concern (the Childline report on teenage suicides last week and the brutal murder case that reached its conclusion in Leeds this week: “Will Cornick named and jailed”)
We need to ask what’s being done to help schools identify all young people who are in distress and possibly self-harming, as well as those causing distress and actual harm to others. Adults with chronic mental, social and emotional problems are often resistant to intervention, so we need to take these conditions seriously in childhood when we see evidence of them in individuals. There is an awareness issue, a staff training issue, a tracking & monitoring issue and a resources issue. We need secretaries of state for education who devote as much time and attention to mental health and wellbeing as they do to raising scores in tests and exams. Quality work in PSHE should also be essential in every school – for the benefit of all students and their teachers.
Do we have the political and professional will to eliminate or at least grapple seriously with teenage suicide, self-harming, stress, depression, aggression, apathy, hyperanxiety, etc? If so we’ll need to invest substantially in interventions in primary schools as well as secondary schools. In the meantime there are many ways in which we can re-focus our efforts to support children at risk which have very few cost implications. To begin with we simply need to re-think our priorities. There is nothing more important than wellbeing and mental health.
Have a good weekend.