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Place2Be welcomes cross-party commitment to expanding school mental health services

Ahead of the General Election on Thursday 4 July, each major political party has set out their manifesto of policies they would bring in if they form the next Government.

Place2Be has long been calling for politicians to prioritise children’s mental health, and we have emphasised the important role that schools play in providing support to young people.

Currently, around 44% of children and young people have access to NHS Mental Health Support Teams in their school. Introduced in 2017, these services give schools help to support pupils with mild mental health issues.

This was a welcome first step but, like others, we've urged the need to go further and give every pupil the right help for their mental health.

Background to our campaign

In the lead up to the election, Place2Be has worked alongside other charities to advocate for every pupil to have access to mental health support in school. As part of Children’s Mental Health Week 2024, we convened nearly 30 leading organisations to call on the Government to invest and give every school access to this type of support.

We also worked directly with young people, urging the Prime Minister to commit to long-term funding for school-based mental health services.

Win for Place2Be

We are thrilled that this hard work has paid off. Last week, every major party in England made commitments to supporting young people’s mental health.

The Labour Party, Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and Green Party all pledged to put mental health services in every single school across the country.

This is a huge win for Place2Be. For thirty years, we've been working in partnership with schools to provide an embedded, evidence-based and expert mental health service. We know first-hand the valuable impact this has on young people, their families, teachers, peers, and the whole school community.

By giving every school much-needed access to a qualified mental health professional, we can support the school to build a positive culture that prioritises mental health and wellbeing. This model, working in partnership with the school, enables a ‘whole school approach’, something championed by Place2Be for decades.

Political parties share their support

  • The Conservatives have committed to expanding Mental Health Support Teams, to reach every school and college in England by 2030.
  • The Labour Party has pledged to provide access to specialist mental health professionals in every school, so every young person can get support early before their problems escalate.
  • The Liberal Democrats have promised to put a dedicated, qualified mental health professional in every primary and secondary school, making sure all children and parents have someone they can turn to for help.
  • The Green Party stated their support for putting a trained and paid counsellor in every school and sixth-form college.
  • Reform UK has put forward their proposals for supporting children’s mental health by tackling social media harms.

Wider policy proposals

Having access to embedded, expert mental health provision in school would make a world of difference in tackling mental ill health experienced by young people.

We know this is only one piece of the puzzle. As well as easy access to support, young people need an inclusive school environment that nurtures wellbeing. Alongside this, children need a voice in the education and mental health support they receive, including from NHS and in the community.

For example, attending school is a huge barrier that many young people face and it must be tackled. We welcome the progress that could be made in achieving this, as set out in the manifestos.

  • The Conservatives would improve school attendance through providing more mental health support and legislate to create a register of children not in school.
  • Labour would introduce free breakfast clubs in primary schools and introduce a new annual review of safeguarding, attendance, and off-rolling.
  • The Liberal Democrats would also tackle persistent absence by setting up a register of children who are not in school, and trying to understand and remove underlying barriers to attendance.

Each party has also offered to expand mental health services in the community, with Labour, Liberal Democrat and Conservative Parties all committing to delivering hubs in each neighbourhood.

What’s next?

While manifestos show what the political parties will try to deliver in Government, the key will be in the detail of their delivery. There is no quick fix to the mental health crisis. To make sure that every child has easy access to expert support in their school, we need ambition.

As 4 July brings a new Government, we will continue to use our evidence, experience and commitment to keep pushing for a future where no child has to struggle with their mental health alone.

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