Blogs 11 January

Mental Health: True Transformation?

Those of us in the mental health sector may be struggling to feel positive after another Government announcement which seems to lack funding or teeth – and which yet again seems to pass the buck to those in education.

We do not need another review of CAMHS. We need to action the recommendations of the Future in Mind report. We need to ensure that the Sustainable Transformation Plans submitted by Clinical Commissioning Groups are truly transformational in their implementation: they need to show that they are doing what they were funded to do.

However, there are reasons to be cheerful.

As an organisation providing online counselling for children and young people, we spend a lot of time listening to pupils and students and running workshops to support their emotional well-being. This means I can speak from experience about what we know works well.

First, enabling young people to develop emotional resilience.

We need to help them develop the skills, tools and resources to navigate through life, and help prevent mental health problems emerging. This is reflected online for example, where we are moving the message from ‘e-safety’ to ‘digital resilience’ empowering them to navigate their digital lives as well.

Secondly, we need a ‘whole school’ approach. 

Counselling and emotional support aren’t add-ons, they should be publicly acknowledged as an important component of our education system. This includes developing supportive cultures within schools and looking critically at the demands we place on teachers. Emotional health is a crucial achievement, and should be everyone’s business.

Thirdly, schools need to have good links to mental health services so that teachers have the right guidance to help children and young people get the right support.

The Prime Minister’s focus on mental health is welcome. I hope the criticism reported in the media this week is fuel to her fire and that CCGs will take seriously the ‘transformational’ element of the plans they have submitted, reflecting the intentions set out in the Future in Mind Strategy. This laid out exactly how we improve services in this country.

Elaine Bousfield – Director and Founder, XenZone