Green Paper concerns
Members of the British Psychological Society have responded to a child and mental health Green Paper by calling for an end to austerity policies and a greater focus on prevention. While the Society welcomed the aim of reducing waiting times, it raised concerns that the paper did not consider the effects of government cuts or the wider impact of social and political circumstances on mental health.
The Green Paper, Transforming Children and Young People’s Mental Health Provision, sets out plans for an extra £300 million in funding. The government has proposed that every school and college in England should have a designated senior lead for mental health; that a four-week waiting time for child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) should be piloted in some areas; and that new community-based mental health support teams will work with schools and colleges to support children with mild to moderate mental health problems.
However, in its response to the Education and Health Select Committees, members of the Society, working with its Policy Advisor Nigel Atter, said the timescale for implementing these new approaches was limited. The initiatives will be rolled out to 20 per cent of the country over the next five years. It also pointed out that cuts to CAMHS, school nurses, school-based counsellors, educational psychologists, Sure Start and Children’s Centres undermined efforts to promote wellbeing.
Overall the authors made several recommendations, emphasising the need to end austerity measures and reverse the rise in childhood poverty to help reduce adverse early experiences which can then affect people across the lifespan.
Others have raised concerns for teachers, who will be heavily involved in overseeing the proposed changes. In a letter to The Psychologist (see p.7) Dr Zoë Boden and Alice Scotcher point to the retention crisis in teaching and the great deal of responsibility teachers already have in supporting distressed students with little or no professional training.
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