Conservative candidate welcomes mental health support for schools

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Child walking with backpack

Bedford and Kempston’s Conservative Parliamentary Candidate, Ryan Henson, has welcomed his party’s initiative to offer mental health training to all local schools and colleges in Bedford.

The Government announced earlier this week that they’ve set aside £9.3million as part of their commitment to provide more joined up care between school and college staff and NHS professionals.

Ryan Henson said: “Bringing school and college staff into the same room as NHS professionals, and encouraging them to work together, will ensure more pupils get the right support at the right time.

“With half of all lifetime cases of mental health disorders beginning by the age of 14, bridging the gap between education and NHS services is vital if we are to ensure all children get the best possible start in life.”

The offer is part of a wider £1.4 billion programme to support young people’s mental health, along with the introduction of compulsory health education lessons from 2020.

But, while Labour MP for Bedford and Kempston Mohammad Yasin has also welcomed the news, he says more needs to be done.

“I welcome any improvement in mental health support for young people, especially early intervention measures but the scale of the problem demands a much more ambitious approach than this,” he said.

“Diagnosing the problem is only the first step; we then need to fix it. But decades of under investment in mental health services has meant less than a third of children with a mental health problem are accessing treatment and support.

“Those that do face waiting times over a year and have to travel outside Bedford to access them.

“Many schools already have great mental health awareness initiatives despite cuts to school funding in these areas, but teachers who are already overworked should not be expected to take on the additional role of diagnosing mental health issues.

“We were promised parity of esteem for physical and mental health – we wouldn’t ask a teacher to diagnose a broken leg.

“If the Government are serious about introducing preventative measures they would bring back the nursing bursary, so every school had a qualified mental health professional and fund Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services properly.”