Children’s mental health is currently in crisis with more children reporting problems but fewer receiving help.
It was, therefore, somewhat surprising that the Conservative Party took to Twitter to celebrate its achievements during children’s mental health week. But social media users were on hand to point out everything that was wrong with its tweet.
“Improving children’s mental health”
The official Conservative Party Twitter account stated:
📢 We're improving children's mental health support in schools.
👧 Up to 370 schools in one of the largest mental health trials 👦
@DamianHinds: "We are rolling out significant additional resources to schools to improve mental health privision."
— Conservatives (@Conservatives) February 4, 2019
The trials the Conservative Party references are twofold. The government is rolling out mental health awareness in schools alongside classes in mindfulness and breathing techniques.
Both while these initiatives sound okay on paper, they are, as one Twitter user put it, a “sticking plaster”:
We should be finding out why our young people are finding life so hard, putting a sticking plaster on it is not the answer.
— Jane Jackson (@JaneEjackson) February 4, 2019
And as other social media users pointed out, it’s an “empty initiative” given the state of Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS):
⚠ONS figures 03-02-19⚠
🔊 TEENAGE SUICIDES HAVE DOUBLED IN THE LAST 8 YEARS
🔊 FUNDING ANNOUNCED WILL ONLY TOUCH THE NEEDS OF 25%, LEAVING 75% ON THE WAITING LIST
— Donna-Marie (@LibertyHall1916) February 4, 2019
A 2018 report from Young Minds found that:
“76% of parents identified a deterioration in their child’s mental health while waiting for CAMHS to support them.”
“85% of parents whose children waited more than six months said their children’s mental health had deteriorated.”
“69% of parents said that neither they nor their children were signposted to other support services while waiting for help from CAMHS.”
the prevalence of severe mental health problems was around three times higher among children in the bottom quintile [20%] of family income than among those in the top quintile.
2018 figures show that 4.1 million children are living in poverty. Meanwhile, over 2,000 households with children were living in temporary accommodation – a 64% increase since the Conservatives came to power in 2010.
Twitter users were quick to point the links between Conservative Party policy, poverty and mental health:
Your Govt is responsible for many of the problems seen in schools today, is it any wonder with parents at their wits end over finances and keeping a roof over their heads that the children are suffering these problems. That high horse is a donkey . #GTTO
— Geoff Doe #JC4PM2019 (@Surailian) February 4, 2019
— James #JC4PM2019 ✊ #GTTO (@Jaduk99) February 4, 2019
While anything that improves children’s mental health is welcome, this latest trial is nothing but empty words. Children’s mental health services are underfunded with massive waiting lists; the current crisis in schools funding means headteachers having to cut counsellors and support workers. And no amount of mindfulness and deep breathing will cure a hungry belly or replace a roof over someone’s head.
The Conservative Party is responsible for this crisis. And this is something neither us, nor our children will ever forget.
Featured image via Pxhere
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