Welsh government makes mental health priority

Written by: Greg Lewis | Published:
Image: Adobe Stock

As the mental health of young people comes under a nationwide spotlight, the Welsh government has revealed the wellbeing of pupils will be a key priority for schools.

Health and education chiefs want schools to be at the frontline of delivering an ambitious goal of building “a population of emotionally resilient” and “mentally healthy” children and young people.

Currently work is underway to pilot and shape Donaldson’s vision for the new curriculum in Wales, which will be called Successful Futures and is due to be rolled out from 2022.

But the government is clear that children will not be capable of achieving their full potential unless they are both emotionally literate and have good mental health.

This determination to tackle issues surrounding mental health comes amid a series of reports on the increase in self-harming of young people, a shortage of local services, and expert analysis which in some cases estimates that up to one in 10 young people in the UK have mental health issues.

A recent Panorama special called Kids in Crisis reported on the overstretched Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS). The service which has been a lifeline for a generation of children is now said to be crippled by a lack of funding.

The Welsh government has set up a Task and Finish Group to work on a “whole-school” approach to ensure that mental health and wellbeing becomes central to the way schools work.

This, the government says, will see schools supporting the broader mental health and wellbeing of learners and for it to be implemented properly may mean training for staff.

The new group will see how different activities already taking place can be brought together; highlight any gaps in provision; and consider how education and health agencies can work more closely together.

The work of the group is in response to and, will be informed by, the report by the National Assembly’s Children, Young People and Education Committee, Mind over Matter, which called for emotional and mental wellbeing and resilience to be a stated national priority and contained recommendations for how this could be taken forward.

Education secretary Kirsty Williams said: “Work is already underway to provide dedicated professional support to schools, but what we’re talking about here is an approach that goes right across the school, connects activities already taking place and identifies where we can go further and faster.

“We want schools to become exemplary in the way they promote mental health and wellbeing and this group is just the beginning of a process that will take us to that point.”

Health and social services secretary Vaughan Gething added: “Schools have a crucial role in identifying problems early, and helping to provide children and young people with the tools to cope with the stresses of growing up.”


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