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Schools aren’t equipped to deal with the government’s mental health failings, stop passing the buck

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Tuesday 18 June 2019 18:28 BST
Pupils should be enjoying things in their own time over the Easter holidays, says NASUWT official
Pupils should be enjoying things in their own time over the Easter holidays, says NASUWT official (PA)

Charlotte R Walker (It’s too late for Theresa May to solve the mental health crisis among young people – here’s why) is right to highlight the inadequacy of this government’s response to the tragic upsurge in the numbers of children needing treatment for mental health issues. Once again the government, which has cut school funding by 8 per cent per pupil, instructs teachers to solve another of society’s problems. It isn’t going to work.

Twenty years ago, I was part of a senior management team that sought to introduce the position of school counsellor to a medium-sized secondary school because the NHS had very little to offer at that time.

We were able to appoint a trained professional of high quality who cared passionately about the children. Eventually, the experiment failed. Schools are complex environments where there are countless complex interactions every day.

Children face diverse and complex issues at home, at school and on social media and react in unpredictable ways; some are predisposed to develop mental health problems.

A sympathetic ear is not enough a team of multidisciplinary experts is needed to agree the right treatment and the lead counsellor needs supervision in order to maintain their own mental health.

Without this, there is a danger of doing more harm than good. Schools are not resourced to manage the many extra meetings with stakeholders (they used to be called parents) which can, themselves, lead to additional patients; neither can they manage the build-up of false hopes and the subsequent despair. Finally, properly trained and experienced personnel are very rarely available in the workforce.

A modern, properly funded referral service is the only answer. Until we have that this tragedy of ruined lives and aspirations will just get worse.

David Lowndes
Soberton, Hampshire

Mohamed Morsi’s death

I am astounded and aghast at the sad demise of the first democratically elected Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi. He stood tall and refused to bow to adversity, unimaginable acts of cruelty and wickedness. We are not saints but his cruel and inhumane treatment, solitary confinement and the refusal to grant him access to health care amounted to execution and transgressions of fundamental human rights. Let us hope that his death will inspire Egypt to rise and punch above its weight in the regional and global arena.

Munjed Farid al Qutob
London NW2

Leave old people alone

Very fine article by Jenny Eclair (Politicians could learn from ‘Years and Years’. At least it’s taking our fears about impending doom seriously). Early on, my eye was drawn to a question that I think many of us have been pondering for a while: “How much more bonkers does this country have to get?”

Well, reading a recent posting on social media from Jeremy Hunt, I think we have already passed into crazier territory.

I know we do not expect much from the woeful bunch of MPs currently at Westminster, but tweeting that “every older person should die with dignity and respect” makes me wonder where on Earth were his advisers?

Robert Boston
Kings Hill, Kent

Hunt backing Trump

Shame on Jeremy Hunt. How low have our politicians sunk to side with a foreign country’s leader in his criticism of a British colleague. Where has solidarity gone?

Whatever Trump says or tweets against Sadiq Khan, he should very promptly be told to keep out of our political and domestic affairs. Instead, he should look to sort out the gun massacres in his own country.

I find it hard to believe that there was such a furore when Obama said the UK would go to the back of the queue if it went ahead with Brexit.

Yet the hounding of Khan, and various comments about who should be and who should not be our prime minister, or who should conduct our Brexit negotiations, does not arouse a murmur. It’s disgusting.

Janina Doroszkowska
Marlow, Buckinghamshire

Independent Minds Events: get involved in the news agenda

A third runway at Heathrow would be disastrous

It has just been announced that in order to build a third runway at Heathrow, they would need to divert rivers, re-route the M25 under a new tunnel, and God knows what else, which would inevitably destroy even more of the environment than airports already have.

Not to mention the fact that the astronomical cost would certainly double or treble before everything was completed. All this in order to increase, again by ridiculous figures, the number of air travellers per year. To compensate, Heathrow will, they claim, reduce night flights by 30 minutes each day, and not allow polluting vehicles to drive too close to the terminals.

We are supposed to bring down carbon emissions to as near zero as possible and as soon as possible. Surely even the most deliberately ignorant could, if unblinkered, realise that these two ambitions are diametrically opposed, and that the former would without any doubt speed us even faster into the inconvenient, uncomfortable and dystopian future envisaged for our grandchildren and theirs.

Rosemary Mathew

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