Crisis in Young People’s Mental Health

31 March 2018

Commenting after the debate on Motion 20, Kevin Courtney, General Secretary of the NUT section of the National Education Union, said:

“The NEU considers some of the greatest barriers to good mental health care for children and young people to be inadequate funding, cuts to services, a lack of school capacity, and Government education policies that undermine inclusion. 

“When considering the ‘exam factory’ nature of the education system, it is especially concerning that many primary school children are experiencing symptoms of stress and anxiety because of the pressures they are facing to succeed in SATS tests. The narrowing of the secondary curriculum and the promotion of EBacc subjects at the expense of other subjects, in particular the arts, is also having a detrimental effect on young people’s mental health.

“Current waiting times to see a mental health practitioner in Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) are alarming and damaging. In addition, they vary dramatically across different regions. Whilst the Government has proposed a four-week waiting time, there is no explanation as to how this might be facilitated. In fact, it has rather worrying implications for the quality of service.

“Poverty and the mental health of a young person’s parent/carer are abiding factors, too. It is appalling that many families rely on food banks and that up to 3 million children suffer from malnourishment during school holidays. In addition, increasingly punitive approaches to behaviour in schools – detention, isolation and exclusion, amongst them - are feeding a mental health crisis for our children.”

Editor’s Note