BACP firmly welcomes the Education and Health and Social Care Committees’ damning report The Government’s Green Paper on mental health: failing a generation and urges the Government take on board the comments of MPs and stakeholders to ensure that the final policy proposals that emerge are ones that can truly deliver for the nation’s children and young people.
The Committees have put forward a series of important conclusions and recommendations to the Government and we are pleased to see MPs supporting a number of points made by BACP made in our response, the clearest of which is the obvious unambitious nature of the proposals. The report rightly points out that “the long timeframes involved in the strategy will leave hundreds of thousands of children and young people unable to benefit from the proposals. Rolling out the plans to only 'a fifth to a quarter of the country by 2022/23' is not ambitious enough".
While the Committees haven’t gone as far as supporting our call for a counsellor in every school and college, they importantly acknowledge that “The green paper does not adequately connect to other relevant policies and we are concerned that it misses opportunities to address fragmented and, in places, poor services”. A striking example is the green paper’s failure to include proposals to deliver the Department for Education’s expectation for a trained counsellor in all secondary schools.
The Education and Health and Social Care Committees recognise that there is already school-based mental health provision and call for “a clear picture of the current level of mental health services provided by schools and colleges, how much has been cut in the past seven years …” as well acknowledging that “Effective data collection on the in-school provision and workforce for mental health support is crucial for future policy development and monitoring purposes.".
The Committees response also queried the vague details on who will fill the ‘Mental Health Support Teams’ and whether they will have the appropriate training or expertise to help most youngsters, while highlighting concerns that “an unintended consequence of the Government’s proposals would be that financially stretched schools and colleges could further cut their current provision of mental health support, assuming that Mental Health Support Teams will be there instead”. All points that BACP agree with.
Chair of BACP, Dr Andrew Reeves says: “The fact that so many of the issues we raised in our response have been recognised by a group of MPs in this report is heartening and must be a wake-up call to the Government that a rethink is needed.
“We remain concerned that despite the expectation set out in the Department for Education’s Counselling for schools: a blueprint for the future there has been no progress towards a trained counsellor in every secondary school in England as we know that school-based counselling is a cost-effective and proven early intervention which improves children and young people’s mental health and emotional wellbeing.
“We are also hugely concerned by the Government’s focus on creating a completely new, untried and untested system in its proposed ‘Mental Health Support Teams’ which ignores the thousands of highly-trained and under-utilised counsellors and psychotherapists.
“The counselling workforce is already there, trained and willing to fill these posts now and immediately start helping young people get the support they need.
“Using the existing counselling and psychotherapy workforce is a quicker, cost-effective solution and we once again urge the government to look again at the role our therapists could play to deliver its objectives.”
Read the full report The Government’s Green Paper on mental health: failing a generation