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We need to be proactive, not reactive on mental health in schools


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Depression affects 350 million people worldwide, and one in four people in the UK. This and other mental health issues have been a major cause of concern recently, however, the government is not doing much in response to that.

One of the most pressing matters that has come from this rise in poor mental health and mental illness is self- harm.

A recent study showed a 68% increase in young girls being treated in hospital. This self-harm epidemic has caused many people to be concerned about the well being of children, especially teenage girls. These numbers are proof that we need more mental health services where the problem is, namely British schools.

It was found by YoungMinds and The Mix that 24% of boys age 16 - 24 in the UK self-harm. That is heartbreaking and means that almost one in every teenage boys self-harm. Yet, so many of these kids have little access to the mental health services they need.

The government is going to be spending around £1.4bn for children and young people’s mental health services throughout 2020. Baroness Walmsley is a strong supporter for more school counselors and has said: "School counsellors can be a very valuable resource in helping to tackle this terrible epidemic of emotional distress amongst young people, because they are non-stigmatising and easily accessible.", which is a very valuable point. Even though the government has promised all that money towards mental health services, they still continue to sack a majority of mental health counselors in schools due to lack of funding."

The main problem is that this money is not being spent in the right places. A majority of the money is being spent outside of schools when we need it inside the most.

It makes sense that you would put more mental health services where the root of many cases of self-harm come from. Another place a majority of the money is being spent is in hospitals when the self-harm has already gotten too far.

Self-harm can stem from depression, anxiety, social isolation and an increased risk for attempting suicide, which often comes from interactions in school or even home, and considering most teens spend the majority of their time in school that would increase the likelihood of them getting help exponentially.

Counseling is also needed in schools because many teens don’t have the option of finding a mental health counselor outside of school.

Whether that be because of money, transportation, or unwillingness for parents or others to find out, not all teens have the luxury of private mental health counselors, and that doesn't mean they are any less deserving of help.

However, when you look at it, it would make a lot more sense to focus attention on keeping counselors in schools. For one, it makes more sense financially. For example, in 2008 there was £400 million given out for treatment by the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies initiative and it only cost more and more compared to spending money on school counselors to get kids help before it gets so bad.

According to Vice, 13 % of the NHS budget is spent on mental health and there have been suggestions as to another 20 percent cut in funding. This is absolutely crazy and you would think that the younger generations would be more important than they are being treated.

The government needs to take many steps to fix this rising problem. One of the most immediate would be to stop taking funding from the school's counselors that our kids so desperately need, and eventually raise money to put more into the system.

This can be done by focusing more on treating kids in schools before it gets to the point where they need to be treated in a hospital. It is also important to be vocal about getting help and not stigmatizing mental illness. There are always people there for who want to help.


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