Children and young people’s mental health — the role of education Contents



1.The unexpected decision to hold an early election has meant that this report is necessarily shorter than we would have hoped, especially given the volume of written evidence that we received and the importance of children and young people’s mental health and education. We hope that our successor Committees will return to this issue in the new Parliament. (Paragraph 4)

2.In January this year, the Government announced its intention to publish a Green Paper on children and young people’s mental health. We urge the incoming Government to follow up on that as soon as possible in the new Parliament and, in doing so, to take account of the recommendations of this report. (Paragraph 5)

Well-being in schools and colleges

3.We welcome the Government’s commitment to making PSHE a compulsory part of the curriculum and recommend that the next Government upholds that commitment. We recommend that our successor Committees explore in more detail how this is best implemented. (Paragraph 9)

4.The promotion of well-being cannot be confined to the provision of PSHE classes. To achieve the whole school approach, senior leadership must embed well-being throughout their provision and culture. Doing so will have implications for staffing and training and the balance of provision and delivery of subjects across the curriculum to allow more time to focus on well-being and building resilience. We believe that this would be in the best interests of children and young people. (Paragraph 13)

5.We welcome the inclusion of the personal development and well-being criteria in the Ofsted inspection framework. However, it seems that insufficient prominence is being given to it by inspectors. More must be done to ensure that mental health and well-being are given appropriate prominence in inspections and in contributing to the overall grade given to the school or college. The recently appointed Chief Inspector should, as a matter of priority, consider ways in which the inspection regime gives sufficient prominence to well-being. Should our successor Committees return to this subject, we recommend that they hear from her about the steps she is taking in this regard. (Paragraph 16)

6.Achieving a balance between promoting academic attainment and well-being should not be regarded as a zero-sum activity. Greater well-being can equip pupils to achieve academically. If the pressure to promote academic excellence is detrimentally affecting pupils, it becomes self-defeating. Government and schools must be conscious of the stress and anxiety that they are placing on pupils and ensure that sufficient time is allowed for activities which develop life-long skills for well-being. (Paragraph 19)

Mental health support in education providers

7.Teachers are not mental health professionals, but they are in many cases well placed to identify mental ill health and refer students to further assessment and support. Training school and college staff to recognise the warning signs of mental health ill health in their students is crucial. We encourage the Government to build on the inclusion of mental health training in initial teacher training and ensure current teachers also receive training as part of an entitlement to continuing professional development. (Paragraph 25)

Co-ordination between health and education services

8.A structured approach to referrals from education providers to CAMHS must be developed across the country. We have seen cases of strong partnerships between mental health services and education providers, but such links do not exist in many local areas. (Paragraph 32)

9.We are encouraged by the results of the CAMHS link pilot and are pleased that the pilot has been extended. We recommend that the Government should follow the advice of the evaluation and commit resource to establish partnerships with mental health services across all schools and colleges. The variation in access for children and young people to timely assessment and support for mental illness is unacceptable. (Paragraph 33)

Cuts to school and college based services

10.We heard evidence of the adverse impact of funding pressures on mental health provision in schools and colleges, including the ability to bring in external support. We know that over half of all mental ill health starts before the age of fifteen and it is therefore a false economy to cut services for children and young people. We strongly urge the next Government to review the effect of budget reductions on the in-school provision of services to support children and young people’s mental health and well-being. (Paragraph 39)

Social media

11.We recommend that schools should include education on social media as part of PSHE, including educating children on how to assess and manage the risks of social media and providing them with the skills and ability to make wiser and more informed choices about their use of social media. (Paragraph 47)

12.We recommend that the Government should encourage schools to share details of PSHE and other specialist expertise and knowledge, including relevant online support, with parents to increase awareness of what their children will be taught at school about social media. This should include guidance on the effects of sleep deprivation on children and young people’s well-being and mental health. Parents have a key role to play in limiting screen time, reducing sleep deprivation and preventing exposure to harmful online activity. (Paragraph 50)

13.We urge the Government to continue the work that is being done by the United Kingdom Council for Child Internet Safety and to take steps to ensure that social media organisations and internet providers prioritise child internet safety and dealing with cyber-bullying. These organisations and providers must not be allowed to duck their own responsibility for preventing harm to children and young people. (Paragraph 52)

28 April 2017