(UK) London: Schools unsure of mental health needs; therapist needed in every school

Feb 10, 2018, (UK) Ekklesia: London Schools 'struggle to know what type of mental health support is needed for pupils' Almost half (45 per cent) of school leaders have found it difficult to commission mental health support for their pupils, and over a third (34 per cent) of counsellors and psychotherapists who work with children and young people said it was difficult to provide their services to schools. That is according to new research published by children’s mental health charity Place2Be, in partnership with NAHT, the union for school leaders, as part of Children’s Mental Health Week (5 – 11 February 2018). The research, based on responses from 655 school leaders and 1,198 counsellors and psychotherapists, provides a picture of the challenges faced by schools and school-based mental health professionals: 44 per cent of school respondents said “knowing what type of support is needed” is a barrier to providing mental health support for pupils, and 37 per cent said they don’t feel confident in commissioning a counsellor or therapist.... A psychotherapist working with children and young people added, “I think schools need a better understanding of how counselling and psychotherapy can help not only the children, but the school as a whole.” Paul Whiteman, General Secretary of school leaders’ union, NAHT, said, “Schools have always been on the front line with children's mental health because school is often where issues first become apparent. … Dr Andrew Reeves, chair of British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) said, “It is clear from these results that although school leaders can see the benefits of school-based counselling as an early intervention in reducing psychological distress; many feel that they need more guidance in recruiting the right mental health support in their schools. … Prof Sarah Niblock, Chief Executive of the UK Council for Psychotherapy, said, “Urgent steps must be taken to bridge this gap given that 50 per cent of mental health problems in adults are established by 14 and 75 per cent by 24. We need a senior professional therapist in every school, able to carry out individual assessments of clinical need, and to develop and oversee an organisation-wide culture capable of supporting children’s and adults’, including teachers and parents’ emotional and mental health – individually, in groups, families, classes and whole-school.”