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Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families welcomes Green Paper on Children and Young People’s mental health provision

The Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families (AFNCCF) welcomes the publication of the Government’s green paper on children and young people’s mental health, which sets out plans to transform support for mental health and wellbeing in education and other settings.

We are pleased to see the creation of Mental Health Support Teams linked to schools, the piloting a four-week waiting time standard and rolling out mental health first aid training in primary schools along with a commitment to establish designated mental health leads in all schools.

In addition, it is welcome to see the training needs of teachers being addressed. A YouGov poll commissioned by AFNCCF in September 2017 found that whilst 92% of primary school teachers in England agree that primary schools have a crucial role in identifying pupils who have mental health problems, only 10% strongly agree they had the necessary training to feel confident about what action to take when a child experiences a mental health problem.

We are very pleased that work of the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families carried out for the DfE and NHS England on the Mental Health and Schools’ Link programme acknowledged in the Green Paper. We are currently rolling out the programme to a further 1,200 schools and colleges. The Centre will also continue to prioritise support for schools by:

  • Delivering a project, funded by the Department for Education (DfE) which supports schools and colleges to develop peer mentoring programmes.
  • Leading a DfE funded Randomised Controlled Trial (RCT) which will test the effectiveness of school-based mental health interventions.
  • Running the growing Schools in Mind Network of currently over 2,500 schools, offering all those working in education access to evidence-based mental health resources, training and workshops.
  • Supporting the Family School we established to reintegrate excluded children and those at risk from exclusion so they can thrive mainstream education.
  • Providing outreach to provide a broad range of mental health support for schools in London and supporting inclusion for vulnerable pupils.

We are particularly pleased to see the mental health of young people in trouble with the law and looked-after young people being acknowledged and addressed. We also welcome the proposal to carry out further analysis into the brain development of very young children.

Investment in children’s mental health is overdue. We are very pleased to see The Government acknowledge the need for legislation in the Green Paper and to commit itself to additional spending. This will make a big difference to children’s lives. In addition we welcome further analysis on brain development in very young children and commitment to develop a programme to reduce parental conflict through evidence-based interventions. We recognise that the Green Paper is a consultative  document and the Centre is fully prepared to engage in discussions of these initiatives dramatically to improve children’s and family’s access to early, effective and appropriate mental health support.

Jaime Smith, Programme Director for Mental Health and Wellbeing in Schools at AFNCCF, said:

“The publication of this green paper is an important step in acknowledging the role that schools play in promoting the mental health and wellbeing of children and young people. It is vital now that the ambition of the green paper is carried forward and that schools, colleges and early years providers are equipped through support and funding to feel confident in promoting positive mental health and wellbeing and ensuring that those children and young people who are at risk receive timely and appropriate help.”