Pupils’ Mental Health – TWO issues – which is most important?

The consultation on the Green Paper Transforming Children’s and Young Persons’ Mental Health has raised a bit of a furore. Over 2000 responses have been made.  Will the government listen?  We’ve picked out two of the most important points.

It’s important to distinguish the two different responsibilities for primary schools that require rather different sets of skills:

i) Pupils with social, emotional, behaviour or diagnosable mental health issues that are impairing their learning capabilities and their future life prospects. These make up on average 20% of all pupils in the UK.  They require individual clinical help.

ii) Teaching good mental health for all pupils as a part of the curriculum.

Unfortunately, some schools are using programmes that meet ii) to put a ‘tick in the box’ for i).  Even worse some others are using school staff with inadequate training by on-line or videos and with no clinical supervision to carry out therapeutic work on the basis that it’s a cheap option.  This can be dangerous for the children.  If there is a complaint against someone who is not on a register accredited by the Professional Standards Authority (PSA) for working with children the complaint will come directly to the school – with possible devastating consequence.  You wouldn’t send pupils to an unregistered doctor, dentist or nurse would you?

The Green Paper completely missed the need for regulation.  We hope that it will now be made a condition that only therapists on a PSA accredited register or with Health Care Professions Council (HCPC) will be employed or contracted in schools.  Over 1500 schools in the UK have school staff trained to the required standards, most haven’t – www.playtherapy.org.uk and www.playtherapyregister.org.uk

The Green Paper referred to the need for evidence based practice but didn’t specify what this should be.  The existing medical models of evidence base are not suitable for psycho-social interventions.  There is a crisis of reproducibility.  However, Play Therapy UK has an evidence base of over 59,000 measures collected over 12 years clearly showing the positive outcomes of between 74% and 84% that have been achieved year on year for a large variety of presenting conditions. As observed by teachers and parents.

So, although it might appear that responsibility i) is harder to fulfil, it needn’t be with PTUK’s help and we don’t need to hold our breath on the forthcoming White Paper.

Contact Monika at mokijep@majemail.com for more information on placement and training opportunities.