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Praise for schools tackling mental health of staff and pupils

Improving mental health provision for young people should be a national priority, according to former education secretary Nicky Morgan.

Epsom mental health award

The MP, pictured with Chris Goodall and James Newman of Epsom and Ewell High Schoolwas speaking at the first national conference held by Leeds Beckett University’s Carnegie Centre of Excellence for Mental Health in Schools.

The conference, at Leicester’s National Space Centre, was attended by schools leaders and health experts aiming to strengthen mental health support for young people.

Ms Morgan said: “Tackling mental health problems and the stigma that surrounds them is one of the great challenges our society faces today.

“With around 10 per cent of school age children having a clinically diagnosable mental health problem, it is clear that improving the quality of mental health provision for young people must be a priority.”

The centre, run by the Carnegie School of Education and Minds Ahead, is focused on mental health innovation, developing a professional community of school mental health experts while drawing on successful practice to support the needs of schools, pupils and their parents or carers.

Ms Morgan said: “The role that schools play in supporting the resilience and mental health of pupils cannot be overstated.

“From my conversations with schools across the country, it is clear that good school leaders understand the relationship between positive mental health and educational attainment. This is not just essential for a child’s education; it is essential for a child’s whole life.”

Ms Morgan said the Government’s work on improving mental healthcare provision was is a step in the right direction, but there was still a way to go, especially for young people facing unacceptable delays in getting a diagnosis and receiving treatment.

She welcomed a new report, Schools and Youth Mental Health, by social enterprises Minds Ahead and LKM.

“Given the increase in young people needing mental health support, it is clear that more needs to be done and I agree that expert support is needed within schools to ensure that pupils with clinical needs are adequately supported day-to-day,” she added.

“Any proposals on how to encourage more school leaders to prioritise pupil wellbeing are welcome and should be seriously considered by ministers.”

Professor Damien Page, Dean of the Carnegie School of Education, said: “This conference shows just how vital a strategic approach to mental health and wellbeing is in schools.

“Our collaborative approach to whole school strategies has enabled schools to achieve real impact in the lives of children and their teachers, achieving a cultural shift in wellbeing that allows everyone within schools to reach their full potential.”

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