Mind is calling on the Government to make sure that the education system works for young people with mental health problems, and is focused on providing the right support at the right time. The mental health charity wants to see a review into the way school absence is recorded so that it better acknowledges the underlying reasons why children and young people with mental health problems might struggle to attend school.
The call comes on the back of two parent-led organisations – Square Peg and Not Fine in School (NFIS) – writing to the Department for Education (DfE) and starting a petition for a more inclusive education system which no longer punishes parents for their children’s absence, as highlighted by the BBC today.
At the moment, parents can face fines or prosecutions if their children are unable to attend school, without proper consideration of factors that could be contributing to their absence, such as depression and anxiety.
Vicki Nash, Head of Policy and Campaigns at Mind, said:
“All children and young people have a right to education, and they should get the help and support they need to thrive at school. Our education system must be inclusive for those of us with mental health problems. We are deeply concerned that, without the right support, some of these children and young people are being left behind and pushed out of the education system.
“The current national system for managing and recording school attendance does not provide properly for children and young people with mental health problems. We are also concerned that children and young people with mental health problems are having their absences recorded as unauthorised, when they are unable to go to school.
“It’s crucial that families must not be trapped in a situation where children and young people are unable to access mental health support and parents are facing prosecution or financial sanctions.
“The system needs urgent reform to make sure that it works for young people with mental health problems, and is focused on providing the right support at the right time – not on prosecuting parents many of whom are trying to do the best for their children in very difficult circumstances.”