Lib Dems call to address mental ill health in schools

Liberal Democrat Councillor for Saddleworth North Garth Harkness proposed a motion to Oldham Council on Wednesday 11 July addressing issues around young people’s mental ill health, seconded by Shadow cabinet member for education and Shaw Councillor, Hazel Gloster

Councillor Garth Harkness has been working with MIND to improve mental health understanding in Saddleworth along with financing mental health courses for residents in Saddleworth and young people of the Saddeworth youth committee to increase awareness, identify warning signs and promote self-resilience.

Councillor Garth Harkness said: “I have been working on mental health in my own school around mental health strategy and policy. The problem is huge all staff need training, there needs to be mental health first aiders in schools with clear guidelines for staff and a designated mental health lead . Approximately 10% of 5-16 year-olds have a clinically diagnosed mental health disorder. A further 15% of 5–16 year-olds have problems that put them at risk of developing mental health problems.”

Shaw Councillor Hazel Gloster said: “We need to ensure all schools promote resilience, mindfulness and positive mental health along with skills to manage social and emotional difficulties to be taught in the curriculum. The government have talked about mental health but they still don’t back it enough and kids don’t get enough help until it is way down the line. Early help is the key.

“Recent calls from government have called for more work to be done on supporting young people with mental health difficulties and also possibly include this in future inspection regimes.”

Councillor Harkness added: “I welcome the work done by the Health and Wellbeing board and the employment of a mental health school advisor but I know waiting times for adults with mental health difficulties are bad enough but they are horrendous for children!  Schools need to be clear on where to signpost children to self-help and explore school counsellors and in house help.”

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