Every new teacher will be trained to spot the signs of mental health issues, under a new plan unveiled by the Prime Minister.

This will be backed up by updated statutory guidance to make clear schools’ responsibilities to protect children’s mental wellbeing, according to the announcement from 10 Downing Street.

The Prime Minister has also pledged support for school mental health leads so they can help children struggling with self-harm and risk of suicide.

BACP’s Children, Young People and Families lead Jo Holmes said:

“It’s positive that new teachers will be trained to spot early warning signs of mental health issues, but this will merely scratch at the surface of a bigger problem.

“School staff are already aware of many children who need more specialist support but have limited options around where to go to next. There needs to be more investment in this next step of support, with better access to services to meet rising demand.

“Every school should have access to a trained, professional school counsellor who can work with children and young people when showing early signs of psychological distress, providing services at a time when most needed and managed within the school-based setting.

“We strongly support a ‘whole school whole community’ approach to mental health and continue to advocate universal access to school-based counselling being the bedrock of such provision.”

Other measures announced by the Prime Minister as part of the package include:

  • A new scheme to provide respite from debt collection while people seek support to help prevent the onset of mental health problems - with special access for those receiving crisis treatment.
  • NHS staff will be encouraged to take suicide prevention training.
  • Extra funding to support local authorities to strengthen and deliver local suicide prevention plans.
  • Updated professional standards for social workers across England to increase their knowledge and skills when helping those with mental health issues.
  • A commitment to overhauling the Mental Health Act to make it fit for modern society.

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