Mental Health Support offered as part of National Citizen Service but some are saying this is this too little, to too few

Theresa May this week has announced that Mental Health training will be offered as part of the National Citizen Service training programme.

Mrs May said: “Mental health issues can have a devastating effect on young lives and that’s why making sure young people are fully supported both inside and outside of the classroom is a key priority for me.

“We know that early intervention, along with giving young people the confidence to access support, is key – that’s where NCS plays such a vital role.

“NCS helps young people forge friendships across social divides and enhance their confidence and self-esteem.

“This excellent enhancement to the NCS programme will build on the work we are already doing in schools and ensure young people get the knowledge and help they need.”

The British Association for Counselling and  Psychotherapy has raised it concerns those that the number of young people this training and support would reach is very limited. Only 12% of those who were eligible for NCS took part in 2016, with 45% of young people not even aware of NCS. It sounds like there is much more that is needed to be done to address the ever growing need for Mental Health support in England particularly in young people.

Mental health issues disproportionately affect young people, with over half of mental health problems starting by the age of 14 and 75 per cent by the age of 18.

Chair of BACP, Andrew Reeves said: “This programme would come too late for many young people, while leaving others with little or no after support.

“BACP has long campaigned for school-based counselling as it can provide an early intervention to stop conditions accelerating into something more serious and complex. It is quicker and easier for children to access, usually in just two to three weeks, and can work as a parallel support alongside CAMHS.

“School-based counselling uses experienced staff who have chosen to train in mental health as their career (rather than teachers, or other staff working with young people given mental health training).”

Under these new plans the NCS is developing a dedicated mental health awareness course for teenagers talking part in NCS and offering mental health training for more than 10,000 frontline NCS staff to improve support to young people.

Michael Lynas, chief executive of the NCS, said: “As our country’s flagship programme for 16-year-olds, we know just how important the issue of mental health is to this age group, and we hope this initiative will help the next generation to live healthier and happier lives.”

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