Schools should have a mental health professional on hand at least once a week to deal with the growing number of young people with problems, a report has urged.
The Institute for Public Policy Research think-tank also calls for Ofsted inspectors to assess all secondary school mental health services, and for £500m to be allocated from the NHS for children’s mental health care in schools.
IPPR says schools are best placed to be 'mental health hubs' for young people to spot problems but headteachers need more funding.
The think-tank say three children in every classroom suffer from a clinically diagnosable mental health condition.
Devon’s job was cut after criticism of increased testing in schools, arguing it was “not a coincidence” that anxiety is the “fastest growing illness in under 21s”.
Craig Thorley, IPPR's research fellow said: “Not enough of the Government’s new investment in children’s mental health is finding its way to frontline services and too little funding is being directed to schools
“Schools are particularly well-placed to be the hubs from which early intervention support for pupils with emerging mental health problems can be based. But schools must be able to regularly access high-quality specialist support from mental health professionals and counsellors.
“Without these very affordable changes, the life chances of the next generation will continue to be needlessly blighted by mental ill-health.”
The Government has committed an additional £1.25 billion for ‘transformation funding’ intended for children and young people’s mental health services - but critics warn the money is not ring-fenced and could be spent by the hard-pressed NHS on other areas.
Catherine Roche, chief executive of Place2Be, a charity providing support to children in schools, backed the report.
She said: "As the country’s leading provider of school based mental health services, we recognise that by being a trusted and integral part of the school community it is possible to provide an approach which is free from stigma and supports the mental wellbeing of children, parents, teachers and school staff.
"In this way mental health is part of everyday school life and help is accessible when and where it is needed.
“We support the call for early intervention.
"By tackling mental health problems early and taking time to develop children's wellbeing at the earliest possible stage, we avoid needing to deal with more complex and harmful problems later in life.
"This in turn provides a cost saving to adult mental health services.”