For young people, growing up in today’s world can be challenging: from feeling as though you have to dress or act a certain way, to the impact of social media, to facing big decisions about the future. Being young is not always easy, but for some the problems can be more serious.
Half of all mental health problems start by age 14 – and 75 per cent by age 18. In fact one in seven girls aged between 10 and 15 years old are unhappy with their lives – and for boys the proportion is only very slightly smaller.
This is a growing issue many parents and teachers are having to deal with on a daily basis. At such a tender age, mental health issues can have a lifelong impact – potentially affecting school performance, careers and ultimately life opportunities.
We want every young person to grow up feeling confident about themselves and their future. So we need to take a fresh approach to the support available to them, not just through their local health services but through their schools and colleges, as well as their own families.
Today the Prime Minister is announcing that we will do just that, setting out a package of measures to step up the way we respond to mental illness in young people, as part of this government’s commitment to social reform. Every secondary school in the country will be offered free training in mental health support, so staff can better spot the signs of mental health problems that young people might face. We want to see every school train a member of staff in mental health by the end of 2019.
We also want every school in the country to get the best support from their local mental health services, so children needing help can get the right treatment as quickly as possible. This will be backed up by our health and education watchdogs – Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission.
In the Spring, we will launch a major review of child and adolescent mental health services across the country – the first of its kind – to identify what is and isn’t working in the system. This will inform a new strategy later this year, setting out our plans to transform mental health services for children and young people.
We want Britain to be a country that works for everyone, where all our children fulfil their potential. Part of that involves tackling the burning injustice of mental health problems that can hold some children back, so that future generations can develop into resilient, confident adults, equipped to go as far as their talents will take them.