Our Time joins the APPG on better mental health provision in schools

Campaigning for better mental health provision in schools – Our Development Director joins the APPG on Psychology debate on this subject

April was an All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) month for me, with two trips to the House of Commons and one to the House of Lords, to attend APPGs relating to children and young people’s mental health and well-being.

April was an All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) month for me, with two trips to the House of Commons and one to the House of Lords, to attend APPGs relating to children and young people’s mental health and well-being.

All Party Parliamentary Groups are informal cross-party groups run by MPs and Members of the House of Lords to address specific topics of public interest, and involve individuals and representative groups in their activities. Our Time regularly attends the Conception to Age 2 APPG and Children’s APPG, as these meetings provide an opportunity to raise awareness of children of parents with mental illness among politicians and policymakers, and to connect with other individuals and organisations representing the interests of children and young people in the UK.

APPG on Psychology – Improving mental health provision in schools

First up was the APPG on Psychology on improving mental health provision in schools chaired by Dr Lisa Cameron MP. This is a priority area for our charity and a key enabler to helping schools to identify and support children affected by parental mental illness. The panel shared some helpful insights and recommendations that resonated with Our Time’s mission and aims in schools

  • Schools are at the centre of the mental health ecosystem;
  • In the current education system, the balance of priorities is currently tipped towards performance. There is a need to recognise the relationship between pupil mental health and attainment. However, this needs to be supported through investment and resources;
  • OFSTED need to place a greater focus on mental health and how mental ill health should be managed in schools, and are in the process of reviewing their schools’ framework;
  • The societal narrative around building young people’s resilience can be problematic, as it risks placing the responsibility on young people to overcome challenges themselves at an age where they are unlikely to have the capability and resources to do so. What is needed is a ‘resilience culture’ where schools support the behaviour change;
  • Whole school approaches to mental health need to be more widely promoted and schools need to be given a framework of what good looks like. Buy-in from headteachers and pastoral leads is also crucial to success, as is appropriate funding and/or support to embed the change within schools;
  • One size does not fit all – every school is a unique system, so supportive interventions need to be co-designed with schools in order to meet their needs; and
  • Staff supervision and attachment training are imperative in supporting teachers to help pupils – these types of training need to be protected, instead of being stripped back.

Details of the APPG and its purpose are available on the British Psychological Society’s website

Dr Lisa Cameron MP closed the session saying that this was a great time to be in parliament, raising awareness of the importance of mental health and psychology in education. She said she would be feeding back the points raised to the Minister, and encouraged the group to keep sharing its expertise and feedback with government, as this would help to make the real difference on the ground

‘Who Cares?’

‘Who Cares?’ is a question faced by many young people who live with a parent with mental illness. Many young people have told us, ‘I had to parent myself,’ leaving them unsure of how to manage their own emotional lives, and at risk of absorbing their ill parent’s often unhappy view of the world.

In an average classroom, eight children have a parent with a mental illness. Our Time has developed a school-based intervention to help these children. You can find out more here.