'God has given you an identity' says Christian former teacher on teenage mental health plans

Fri 12 Jul 2019
By Ruth Sax

Mental health in young people is prevalent across all ages and a new project funded by the Department for Education to train teachers to support students with mental health issues will be rolled out in September.

The £9.3m national mental health programme aims to bridge the gap between schools and colleges and NHS services.

Pupils struggling with mental health are to benefit from more joined up care and support across schools, colleges and specialist NHS services, in a national roll out of a £9.3 million training scheme.

 

 

Every school, college and alternative provision will be offered training through a series of workshops as part of the Link Programme, with the most appropriate member of staff from each put forward to take part, alongside mental health specialists.

This is designed to improve partnerships with professional NHS mental health services, raise awareness of mental health concerns and improve referrals to specialist help when needed.  The Anna Freud National Centre will lead the four-year scheme for Children and Families, backed by the multi-million-pound government investment.

Starting in September, the training will be rolled out to schools and colleges in phases over four years, being offered to up to 22,000 schools and colleges, including alternative provision settings.

The Link Programme will deliver just under 1,000 training sessions across England involving two whole-day workshops for up to 20 schools at a time to cover all 22,000 schools, encouraging collaborative work, so children do not fall between the cracks or experience poor transition between services.

One in nine young people aged 5 to 15 had a diagnosable mental health condition in 2017 and teenagers with a mental health disorder are more than twice as likely to have a mental disorder in adulthood.

Former teacher and one of the leaders at Emmanuel Church in Brighton, David Brading, told Premier he saw students with mental health issues on a daily basis when he was teaching, especially many having troubles with anxiety.

He said: "I think quality pastoral care is quite a skill. I think what sadly has happened is decreasing budgets, we've just taken out loads of professionals and specialists, pastoral support workers, and I think it takes a special set of skills to provide this support and I'm not sure that a training course is what is required."

"It is another addition to an ever-growing workload for teachers too and I think that one of the reasons that many people are stepping away from the profession is a growing workload and an increasingly wide set of responsibilities within schools and colleges.

“I think the reason that we're in this pickle is an identity crisis and anxiety around identity and sort of just pummelled by social media. From a Christian perspective, it is understanding that God has given you an identity and made everyone unique, every person is valuable.

“I think it's been able to speak that into people’s lives and certainly teenagers lives, because they are not receiving that from anywhere. It is criticism and anxiety around social media likes, and when that does not come there is an erosion of their own self-worth. For young people working out who they are, I believe that we can only find that truly from God.”

Education Secretary Damian Hinds said:

"School and college should be a place where young people feel valued, supported and listened to - and I know that this is the case for so many thanks to the dedication of their teachers and support staff. But there are limits to what can be asked or expected of teachers - they are not, and should not, be mental health professionals.

"That's why this new training is important, by bringing school and college staff into the same room as NHS professionals and encouraging them to work together, sharing their expertise and making sure they have the information they need so that more pupils get the right help at the right time.

This package of measures is part of the Government's plan to improve mental health support for children and young people, including identifying mental health issues before they become more acute.

 

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