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New report highlights gaps in school-based mental health support

31/10/2017 Joanna

Concerns have been raised by a new report about inconsistencies in the provision of mental health support to school pupils.

The Care Quality Commission has carried out an assessment of school-based mental health support as part of a broader review of mental health services for children and young people in England, finding that some schools are performing better in this regard than others.

Around 70 per cent of secondary schools and 52 per cent of primary schools in England were found to currently offer counselling services, with high-quality counselling seen as an effective form of early intervention by young people.

However, the required level of support is not always available to students as and when they need it, with many school leaders surveyed for the report saying they do not have the expertise or time to assure themselves that their counselling services are offering high-quality assistance.

Children said they would like to see these counselling services made available in a more flexible way, with some saying they would prefer online support, while others are keen for sessions to be offered outside of normal school hours, to avoid a detrimental effect on their participation in lessons and other school activities.

The report said: "Many children and young people want schools to offer more information and education about mental health, earlier on in pupils' school years. They want schools to take action to reduce stigma and improve teachers' and pupils' understanding of mental health problems so that they can identify and act on the early signs of poor mental health."

The CQC also reiterated that proper school-based mental health support can be instrumental in tackling bullying, identifying early signs of mental health problems and promoting wellbeing through all aspects of school life, with positive relationships between staff and pupils playing a key role in this.

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