Last week I welcomed the Prime Minister’s announcement setting out a series of public mental health prevention measures, including training for all teachers in mental health.
Those who have worked in and around public health have long advocated the importance of prevention and early intervention being fundamental. We know that a focus here can help to create a healthier, supportive and more inclusive society.
Too often prevention and early intervention has not had the political support or resourcing it requires. So I want to take a moment to celebrate that Theresa May is recognising that prevention and early intervention is vital in mental health. I hope our next Prime Minister, whoever they may be, shares this desire for prevention and early intervention to be the ‘next revolution in mental health’.
May’s commitment is laudable. It will take political leadership and collaboration with universities and schools to deliver. And let us be under no illusion that this cannot be done without a reasonable chunk of money too.
In short my response to the announcement was ‘brilliant’ – now please let’s make it happen.
Given that Theresa May will shortly be leaving No.10 and we don’t yet have any detail about how her vision is going to become reality it is perhaps unsurprising that there is some cynicism.
Some folk questioned whether the measures outlined in her announcement would happen at all. Others said it isn’t enough to invest in prevention and early intervention alone. Investment in Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services and focus on teacher wellbeing is also key. I agree.
Yes, we need robust and effective CAMHS provision. And yes, teachers will only be able to support the mental health and wellbeing of children and young people if their own wellbeing is attended to.
It cannot be either or. It has to be both/and.
So while I remain encouraged by the Prime Minister’s announcement, it comes with a significant caveat that warm words are just words. And we all know that actions speak louder than words.