World Mental Health Day: Headteachers and health professionals all tell me they are witnessing a crisis
“I met with local health visitors last week who told me they are increasingly concerned by the mental health difficulties faced by parents and the sad reality that these would be passed on to their children.
They cited pressures caused by relationship breakdowns, financial hardship and overwork as parents try to make ends meet.
Very young children are starting to exhibit mental health issues as a result. I meet regularly with headteachers who tell me that, besides shortfalls in education spending and difficulties trying to keep experienced and well trained teachers, their other dominant worry is the mental health of their pupils.
This has worsened dramatically, as a legacy of austerity and cuts to children’s mental health provision. There has been an explosion of unhappiness in young people brought on by difficulties at home and rising pressures in education.
The number of referrals to child and adolescent mental health services has increased by 26 per cent in the past five years. It now takes months to be referred, and the threshold for support is higher.
A new report by the Education Policy Institute found that 1 in 4 children referred to mental health services are turned down, leaving teachers to pick up the pieces.
Awareness of the mental health crisis is growing, but resources fail to match the avalanche of need. The government must address this as a matter of extreme importance. Our children deserve so much better. We must not ignore their need for help. Otherwise, today’s gaps in provision will be nothing compared to the challenges we will face in the future.”