One visit will not change lives


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The visit to Cardinal Newman School in Brighton this week, by Jeremy Hunt was very welcome, coming during mental health awareness week. The visit was used to highlight a partnership between the cities Clinical Commissioning Group, Brighton and Hove City Council and YMCA Downslink Groups Right Here project. My own interest in this visit was raised as both of my children attended the School and for a decade I was the Chair of the YMCA. According to this report of the visit, Mr Hunt said “Improving children and young people’s mental health is a top priority which is why we have invested £1.4 billion to help everyone get the right care at the right time.” It is heartening that such an investment has been made, however there are clearly challenges. One of these is in the fact that on this visit, the Secretary of State for Health was not accompanied by Justine Greening, the Secretary of State for education. That may seem like a lot to ask for, to bring two Government Ministers together on a local visit. However the lost opportunity to do so, highlights the fact that one of the obstacles to improving the quality of mental health care for young people is that teachers are poorly trained to support students mental health needs. Last year, a report by the government’s children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing taskforce recommended that teachers receive appropriate training as one in ten schoolchildren had a diagnosable mental illness. Based on my own experience and understanding of mental health, if one in 10 children has a diagnosable mental illness, many more will be displaying symptoms of anxiety and other conditions which have not yet been diagnosed or which if not supported could lead to more acute health conditions. It is heartening that the Government is prepared to invest money in dealing with the clinical aspects of young peoples mental health through the NHS, however we also need this to be matched and coordinated with spending from within the DfE on training teachers. As Dame Sue Bailey, chair of the children and young people’s mental health coalition, said better training would help teachers to spot the early signs of mental ill-health in young people. “Teachers need to not only know about mental health in children but to be able to respond compassionately to the rising problem, which they are currently not prepared for.” Her comments were reported in this article which also included a comment from Sarah Hannafin, policy adviser at the National Association of Head Teachers who said that teachers were in an “ideal position to identify warning signs”. It is great that Jeremy Hunt has visited the School my children attended many years ago, and heard about the excellent work of the YMCA and CCG working in partnership. What is now needed is for a similar level of collaboration between his own department and that of Justine Greening.

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About ianchisnall

I have a passion to see public policy made accessible everyone who want to improve the wellbeing of their communities. I am interested in issues related to crime and policing as well as in policies on health services and strategic planning.
This entry was posted in Brighton & Hove, Charities, Education, Health Reform, Parliament and Democracy, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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