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Mental health in schools

09/10/2017

In a guest article for the Association for Child and Adolescent Mental Health (ACAMH), Place2Be CEO Catherine Roche explains how school-based mental health services for children and young people can complement statutory and specialist services.

“Sometimes you feel like a volcano erupting,” one eight-year-old boy told us, “but if you come to Place2Be, you can cool down.” Learning how to ‘cool down’ when things become stressful or overwhelming is a skill that we all need at some point in our lives. But when problems become too big for children to cope with on their own, it is vital they know who to turn to for support – whether that is a friend or family member, a teacher, or a mental health professional.

The role of schools

A joint report from the Health and Education Committees published in April recognised that schools have a crucial role to play in supporting children and young people with their mental health early in their lives. Similarly, in January the Prime Minister spoke of plans to “transform the way we deal with mental illness in this country at every stage of a person’s life: not in our hospitals, but in our classrooms, at work and in our communities.”

It’s not difficult to see the appeal of placing professional mental health support in the school environment. Not only does working in the school setting enable us to reach children and families without stigma, but also by working in close partnership with teachers and school staff we can intervene earlier before issues develop to the point of needing support from specialist services. Through a ‘whole school approach’, we can promote positive mental health and self-care to help children and young people develop the resilience and coping strategies they need to face life’s challenges.

For example, we provide pupils with the opportunity to book their own appointments with a counsellor during a lunch or break time. This popular service – used by more than 35,000 pupils in the last school year – not only helps to destigmatise counselling for children and young people with more acute needs, but can also be an important means to identify possible safeguarding concerns and a referral route for further support – trained counsellors can spot potential concerns before teachers or other adults might become aware of them.

However the school environment also poses its own challenges...

Read the full article on ACAMH's blog

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