Nearly half of school leaders struggle to commission mental health services

Hundreds of school leaders say they have had difficulties commissioning mental health services for pupils, according to a survey published by children's charity Place2Be.

The research showed that while 84% of secondary schools and 56% of primary schools offered some form of counselling services for students, almost half said that a lack of local services and knowing what support is appropriate hindered their provision of support.

Nine in 10 respondents reported that funding issues limited the provision of mental health support at their schools. Mental health services are funded by 93% of schools who responded to the survey.

Place2Be, whose patron is the Duchess of Cambridge, surveyed 655 people from September to October 2017, two-thirds of whom worked in primary education and one-third in secondary.

The charity argues that mental health services in schools are critical as half of mental health problems in adults start by the age of 14.

"Our evidence and experience shows that embedding skilled mental health professionals in schools, as part of a whole school approach, can have an enormously positive impact for pupils, families and staff," said Catherine Roche, chief executive of Place2Be.

"School leaders are already under immense pressure to deliver academic progress - and we shouldn't expect them to become mental health experts as well."

It comes after Ged Flynn, chief executive of suicide prevention charity Papyrus, said teachers should be prepared to speak to pupils about suicide if they noticed a change in the child's behaviour.

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