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New inquiry to assess role of schools in tackling mental health issues

13/12/2016 Joanna

Schools may be called upon to play a more central role in the prevention of mental health issues among pupils following a new government inquiry.

The Education Select Committee is allying with the Health Select Committee to launch the review, which will see cross-party MPs examining the role of education in promoting emotional wellbeing in children and young people to stop mental health problems from developing.

Specifically, it will look at how schools, colleges and other educational settings could be involved in prevention and early intervention, such as by training teachers and other professionals to recognise the signs of mental illness and support pupils when problems occur.

Focus will also be placed on the extent to which social media and the internet are contributing to an increase in mental health issues among children due to issues such as cyber-bullying and peer pressure, and the steps schools might be able to take to address these problems.

This inquiry is being launched in response to a recent rise in the number of children and young people being affected by mental health issues and the current lack of effective channels to support them. It could lead to further government action to help schools to get a handle on this key issue of pupil wellbeing.

Neil Carmichael MP, chair of the Education Committee, said: "Schools and colleges have a key part to play in tackling this problem, and the committee will examine what their role should be.

"It could be providing better access to counselling, promoting responsible social media use and training teachers to spot early warning signs, for example. But they cannot be expected to do this alone and so we will also be considering what support and resources these education settings will need."

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