The Coalition for Youth Mental Health in Schools

An extraordinary coalition of some of the most respected schools – from both the independent and state sectors – has come together to call for radical reform of how mental health is supported in educational settings.

The Coalition for Youth Mental Health in Schools has called for an overhaul of counselling and PSHE in secondaries while also demanding a step change in the provision of Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services.

The coalition, which straddles some of England’s most respected independent schools and highest performing multi-academy trusts in the state sector, is made up of:

  • Alleyn’s School
  • Lady Eleanor Holles School
  • City of London School for Girls
  • David Ross Educational Trust
  • Eton College
  • Oasis Community Learning
  • Outwood Grange Academy Trust
  • Reach Academy, Feltham
  • Star Academies
  • St Paul’s School
  • Wellington College
  • Westminster School
  • Wycombe Abbey

This coalition, for which Public First acted as the secretariat, was first brought together in the midst of the second lockdown and was a direct response to the challenge of Coronavirus on the lives of all of your young people.

To read the full report please link here

Following a major study, which took in academic research, opinion polling and focus groups, and expert witness evidence sessions, the coalition has come together to make eight recommendations, which taken together it believes should be a minimum entitlement for all young people:

  • The introduction of a nationally standardised framework for measuring and tracking outcomes for CAMHS across the country alongside increased funding.
  • The government should accelerate its ambition to ensure every school has a designated mental health leader by 2023 by bringing forward the funds allocated for training by two years.
  • The government should introduce a statutory requirement for every school staff member to receive appropriate mental health and wellbeing awareness training as part of annual safeguarding training.
  • Schools should restrict mobile phone use during the academic school day and educate students on how to be safe online.
  • All schools to teach at least one properly timetabled lesson of PSHE education each week.
  • The government to invest £11.6 million a year from 2023 into a new ITT route to ensure every secondary school in England has a specialist trained PSHE teacher by 2030.
  • The government should centrally fund a school counsellor in every school.
  • A new apprenticeship trailblazer route to increase the diversity of school counsellors.

The coalition’s report included several shocking findings from its opinion research exercise, including the results from a poll of 1,010 young people on their experience of life under Covid-19:

  • 71% reported feeling like they had no motivation more frequently than pre-pandemic.
  • 62% reported feeling anxious or worried more frequently than pre-pandemic.
  • 46% reported feeling a continuous low mood or sadness more frequently than pre-pandemic.
  • 42% reported not getting any enjoyment out of life more frequently than pre-pandemic.
  • 38% reported feeling hopeless or tearful more frequently than pre-pandemic.
  • 18% reported having suicidal thoughts more frequently than pre-pandemic.

Coalition chair Jane Lunnon, the headteacher of the Alleyn’s School in London, said: “Whether reactive or proactive, all of the recommendations reflect something exciting; the drive and energy which can be generated by teachers and school leaders when they come together, with a shared purpose and a strong mutual aim, to make a real difference. 

“So, perhaps, out of the darkness of Covid, has come an important and energising opportunity, not only to turn on the light around teenage mental health – but to shine it brightly across the educational sector in this country. In doing that, we will help our young find ways to combat and defeat mental illness, to bolster and nurture their mental health and to emerge from these challenging times, all the stronger, full of self-belief, determination and agency and ready to switch on their own lights in the years ahead.”

“Schools are on the frontline when it comes to supporting young people’s mental health, and teachers have witnessed first-hand the challenges that the pandemic has caused or exacerbated for many families across the country. It’s so inspiring to see this extraordinary coalition come together to find solutions for our young people. But no single school, organisation or person can solve this crisis on their own. We are at a pivotal moment when the worlds of education, health and social care must come together to ensure that every child receives the mental health support they need and deserve.” – Catherine Roche, Place2Be Chief Executive

“Mental health education is often left to chance or trivial approaches. But young people can’t learn to stay mentally healthy by osmosis or by making posters, they need weekly PSHE lessons by trained teachers – a key recommendation in this landmark report. Schools must be supported to guarantee this for every child.” Jonathan Baggaley, PSHE Association Chief Executive

To read the full report please click here

To view the full polling tables for young people please see appendix 1 here and for the polling tables for teachers please see appendix 2 here