Reflecting back on mental health awareness week has been interesting. Students seem to feel more confident talking about mental health issues, good and bad. In fact I overheard some year 9 students talking at lunch about how one of them had found out they had social anxiety after a visit to the doctor. He was talking in such a casual manner, it was as if he was talking about a broken leg. And his friends didn’t bat an eye. However one did say, ok so what happens now? The yr 9 student, couldn’t really come up with anything precise. He was waiting for referral, possibly CBT been offered, and even some medication. But in reality, nothing.
So it is with interest that I saw the article that CAMH were spending a day in schools a week to help raise awareness for Mental Health. I asked my school counsellors how they thought this would work in school. We have two counsellors who between them are in full time. Pupils can self refer to see them, or the Health centre and nursing staff suggest and help them book appointments. It can be very challenging for the counsellors working in a school setting, an issue we have been trying to pin down for some time as highlighted in other blogs.
One counsellor thought that we, as a independent school would be so low down the pecking order, that this would not be offered to us. Other told me that CAMH don’t even know how it’s going to work. He knew of one school where there will be a CAMH mental health worker 1 day a week from September this year. The counsellor and the CAMH worker have met but neither of them seem to know how the work of each will impact on the other. He felt it was a question of ‘watch this space’, although his initial thoughts about it is that the CAMH worker is likely to be involved in speaking to classes and /or in groupwork. So have they discussed this with #PSHE ? It doesn’t seem to have been thought through.
Perhaps I have it wrong but I think more should be spent on what we do once we identify that students have a mental health issue. CAMH have told school that the threshold of intervention of help is so high that most of our students won’t actually get any help. So why are we spending money or raising awareness when actually nothing will be done when they do talk about it. More should be spent on local CBT sessions, at local doctors so that children can get the easily without missing valuable lesson time, ( something that adds tremendous stress to many of my students). More should be spent on communication between CAMH and schools. How can we help each other? And more should be spent to lower the threshold of intervention. If pupils can get help before thoughts turn into intentions then this can be only be good, surely?