Members of Youth Parliament for Plymouth are understandably a little shocked that the society in which they have been growing up seems happy to routinely ignore mental health issues for the most part to the extent that 204 young people with mental health problems were locked up in police cells under the Mental Health Act. They are right to be indignant and shocked, and we should be ashamed if we are not.

It is true, young people are not the only ones to be surprised by this. Politicians, police chiefs and health professionals (amongst others) have all agreed that this is far too many. Young people also understand that resources aren’t unlimited and this is an important consideration for everyone; we could all sit here and argue for more of this and more of that but ultimately we need to come up with a financially realistic solutions. These young politicians seem to have accounted for financial realism at least as much, if not more than, any of our ‘real’ politicians.

The fact is that a mental health crisis exists. It costs the UK over £105bn per year – and the cost is rising. These young people are right to be concerned but they also understand the long term solution. Josh Pope, 17, put it well when he said:

“What I feel we need is to improve the attitude to mental health, to start going into schools and speaking to young people. Make young people aware of mental health, teach the teachers and parents about mental health, improve the quality of support and the availability for treatment. If we do all these things, then we stand a better chance of supporting a young person with a mental illness, rather than the individual having to suffer more as an adult.”

This is exactly what we do need. Child mental health problems need a school-based solution to make both young people and staff aware of the issues and to improve the quality of support and availability of treatment. At Nichols Education, that is what we are committed to providing, for a very low cost.

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