Blogging Through The Fog

I’m blogging through the fog generated by the media storm in which I currently find myself (then I’m off to a friend’s house for tea, talk and general TLC because she is basically the Elton John to my pap-weary celeb).

In the Times today, a source close to the DfE said of me:

Increasingly it was felt that she was making too many controversial comments, without evidence to back them up”.

In light of that apparent concern (which was never expressed directly to me) here’s a few verified statistics which have informed my opinions over the past year, for your consideration –

Mental illness has risen by (a conservative estimate of) 70% in a generation – World Mental Health Organisation, 2015

In an average UK classroom 6 children have self-harmed in the past 12 months – Mental Health First Aid, England, 2016

Hospitalisations for eating disorders and self-harm doubled between 2012-2015, Times investigation using NHS statistics

Two thirds of teachers have considered leaving the profession in the past 12 months, NUT, 2016

Almost half of teachers have sought medical assistance for stress-related conditions in the past 12 months, with 67% saying their job had inversely impacted their mental health BBC, 2016

9 in 10 schools have had to provide more support with mental health problems in the last two years and 43% of these laid the blame for this on cuts to CAHMS services in their local area, ATL, 2015

NHS spending on children’s mental health fell by 6% in real terms between 2010 and 2015, BBC

Local Authorities in England spend just 1% of their public health budgets on mental health, Mind 2015

Among people under 65, almost half of all ill health is mental illness, Young Minds 2016

75% of mental ill health manifests by the age of 24, yet only 25% of young people receive the care they require, Young Minds, 2016

Seven children in an average classroom are likely to have been bullied, Mental Health First Aid, 2016

Teen bullying doubles the risk of adult suicide, Live Science, 2015

Suicide is now the biggest killer of men under 45 in the UK, accounting for 1 in 4 deaths in men aged 20-34, CALM, 2015

There are just 1.18 thousand fully qualified school nurses for 8.4million pupils, Head Teacher Update, 2015

In 2015, children were waiting up to 6 months for a mental health assessment through CAHMS, Young Minds

In 2016 the government is WORKING TOWARDS a TARGET of ‘no longer than 17 weeks’ between diagnosis and assessment in CAHMS, Alistair Burt, 2016

Childline received a 200% increase in children calling to request exam stress counselling in 2015, NSPCC

I could go on, but I think the above should be sufficient food for thought. Of course there will still be those who will refute the above amounts to a ‘crisis’ (one person’s ‘crisis’ is another’s ‘necessary sacrifice to be made under austerity because children and teachers just aren’t resilient and hardworking enough’). And of course they will use the old adage ‘you can prove anything using facts’.

And to them I say – I go into 3 schools a week, all over the UK, in both the state and private sector. Whilst the statistics above have confirmed what I was seeing and hearing on the coal face, most of my opinions are informed by conversations with real young people and those who teach them. For me, they are the most reliable evidence of all. I’ve never been the sort of person to see another human in distress and to immediately jump to the conclusion that it is their own fault, or that they’re making it up – perhaps that is where me and my critics would differ.

Thank you so much for the outpouring of support in the past few days – As I said in my column for the TES – I may not be the government’s Mental Health Champion any more, but I still want to be yours.

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