Last month, BESA members elected Mind to be BESA’s Charity of the Year for 2018. While specialising in adults’ mental health, Mind has started working on children’s and young people’s mental health over the past few years, providing support and identifying the need to strengthen mental health services in schools.
What does Mind do exactly to work on mental health?
You are currently developing new programmes to work with children and in schools, could you tell us more about this?
Data suggests that in a classroom of 30 15-year-olds, three young people will be experiencing a diagnosable mental health problem. Alarmingly, the real figure may be even higher as children and young people are not accessing the services they need. Most of those experiencing mental health problems also experience stigma and discrimination, stopping them from seeking help. In addition, Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) are struggling to meet demand and were recently described as being “in a state of crisis” in England.
Research conducted by Mind has enabled us to better understand the nature of the problem, gaps in services, the extent of the unmet need, and to identify a number of key challenges in supporting children’s and young people’s mental health including:
- Gaps in in-school support and the mental health literacy of healthcare professionals
- Poor access to services, with only 33% of young people with a diagnosable mental health problem currently seen by CAMHS
- Poor transition and integration across CAMHS – with many children on adult wards.
Moreover, 75% of mental health problems in adults have their roots in childhood, and rates of depression and anxiety among children and young people are increasing rapidly. With these rates showing no signs of slowing down, it is vital that we find a holistic solution in response to children and young people’s needs.
To address this crisis, Mind are developing a framework for children and young people’s mental health, which complements and meets the gaps in current provision. Mind already have expertise in this area and are building on the lessons learned from current programmes delivered by over 50 local Minds.
Our programmes will help children and young people stay well and have improved mental resilience, supporting them to make informed choices about how they live and recover if they experience mental health problems.
We will also work to reduce stigma and discrimination impacting on children and young people with mental health problems by increasing opportunities and support for participation in communities, including education and employment.
Following an initial project development phase (2016-2018), we plan to spend the following three years (2018-2021) delivering the first stage of our plans – working with the education sector to implement the Whole School Approach to mental health and wellbeing.
Schools and colleges have a front line role in promoting and protecting children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing. In May last year, an enquiry into children and young people’s mental health, jointly led by the Parliamentary Health & Education Committees, found that schools struggle to provide adequate time and resource. We know schools want to do more but they need support to do so.
The Whole School Approach will integrate mental health and wellbeing into the ethos, culture, routine life and core business of the entire school ecosystem, and accordingly will involve work with pupils, staff, parents, and the wider community.
Examples of activities include:
- Tailored training for staff to spot signs of mental health problems in children as well as themselves/colleagues and how to access appropriate support
- Targeted interventions for children experiencing mental health problems such as courses on identifying and managing stress and peer support groups
- Working in partnership with families, for example running group-based programmes to develop parenting skills
- Implementing an anti-bullying policy.
How important are corporate sponsors to your work?
Every year, one in four of us will experience a mental health problem. The support of our amazing corporate partners is crucial in helping us towards our aim of being there for everyone who needs us – on the end of the phone, in local communities and campaigning hard for better services and support. Together we can make sure that no-one has to face a mental health problem alone.