GPs, nurses and teachers must have training in children’s mental health

By 2009, all teachers, nurses and GPs should be trained in recognising children’s mental health problems, according to new government guidance.

Front-line professionals in the children’s workforce should also know how to promote children’s mental health, while nurses, paediatricians, social workers and teachers should have the subject included in their core training.

The Department of Health guidance, issued last week, also called for the use of adult wards for children to be eliminated within five years, except for a few older adolescents who identify more readily with young adults.

According to DH research, 16- and 17-year-olds spent almost 30,000 bed days on adult psychiatric wards in 2005-6 because of a shortage of in-patient units.

The recommendations were made in a report on the implementation of standard nine of the 2004 children’s national service framework, which covers child mental health.

The document made a range of recommendations to be met over the medium term if the NSF was to be delivered fully by 2014.

YoungMinds director Barbara Herts said the report was positive but there needed to be “leverage” over primary care trusts and local authorities to make it happen.

She said the target for teacher training would be difficult to reach because of the current emphasis on exam results. “We need to get down to the nitty gritty of how that’s going to work in practice. It’s a long way from where we are.”

Herts suggested child and adolescent mental health services might be better situated in the Department for Education and Skills so they could link better with mainstream children’s services. 

The guidance also covers the delivery by local agencies of services promoting the mental health of mothers, the development of  dedicated services for children in care and young offenders, and the development of cognitive behavioural therapy training and supervision to meet guidelines on availability of talking therapies

Further information
Mental Health

Contact the author
 Simeon Brody


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