Mental health problems among young people: Committee joins inquiry

12 December 2016

The Education Committee joins forces with the Health Committee for a new inquiry into the role of education in promoting emotional wellbeing in children and young people and preventing the development of mental health problems.

Call for written submissions

The Committees are inviting written submissions on the following topics:

  • Promoting emotional wellbeing, building resilience, and establishing and protecting good mental health
  • Support for young people with mental health problems
  • Building skills for professionals
  • Social media and the internet

Submit your views through the Health Committee's inquiry page.

Deadline for written submissions is Friday 20 January 2017.

Inquiry focus

The short inquiry specifically focuses on the capacity of schools, colleges and other educational settings in prevention and early intervention, including how teachers and other professionals can be trained to recognise the signs of mental illness and support pupils when problems occur.

The Committee also examines the extent to which social media and the internet, through instances of cyber building and peer pressure, for example, are contributing to an increase in mental health issues among young people.

The inquiry has been welcomed by the YoungMinds charity, which is committed to improving the emotional wellbeing and mental health of children and young people.

The inquiry follows a previous inquiry by the Education Committee into the mental health of looked after children.

Chairs' comments

Neil Carmichael MP, Chair of the Education Committee, said:

"The undoubted increase in the number of children and young people suffering from mental health issues is extremely alarming. Children are not able to access the services and get the help they need at an early stage. Some only receive support from under pressure mental health services once their condition has worsened.

Schools and colleges have a key part to play in tackling this problem and the Committee will examine what their role should be. It could be providing better access to counselling, promoting responsible social media use and training teachers to spot early warning signs, for example.

But they cannot be expected to do this alone and so we will also be considering what support and resources these education settings will need if they are to successfully boost the emotional wellbeing of pupils and prevent the development of mental health issues."

Dr Sarah Wollaston MP, Chair of the Health Committee, said:  

"In the last Parliament I chaired an inquiry into Children's and Adolescents' Mental Health Services. The service has long been seriously underfunded and is unable to meet demand, leaving many young people without the help they need. Lack of timely help means that young people can sometimes only access help when they have become seriously unwell.

Young people told us that they wanted services to be available within schools. We are launching a call for evidence for a follow up inquiry into Children and adolescents mental health and the role of schools in prevention and early intervention. This will include examining the impact of social media and bullying."

YoungMinds Chief Executive's comment 

Sarah Brennan, Chief Executive of YoungMinds said:

"Young people tell us about the huge range of pressures that they face, from stress at school to exam pressures, body image worries, bullying and around-the-clock social media. These pressures can take their toll on the mental health of young people with wider impacts on their education and wellbeing. Childhood and teenage years are a critical period of development. So a child with good mental health is much more likely to have good mental health as an adult.

Schools play an integral role in building the resilience of young people against these pressures. If help is available when problems first emerge, we can prevent young people reaching crisis point. YoungMinds welcome this inquiry and hope that this offers further proof to the mounting evidence that prevention and early intervention is crucial. We hope that this inquiry leads to a real change in the prominence given to wellbeing within schools."

Further information

Image: iStockphoto

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