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Why focusing on children’s mental health means success in later life

This article was taken from: https://news.sky.com/story/why-focusing-on-childrens-mental-health-means-success-in-later-life-11346749

By  Enda Brady, Sky News Correspondent

Every £1 invested in mental health could bring a return of £6 for society as a whole, according to new research.

Early mental health interventions in UK primary schools could greatly improve life chances for children and generate significant economic benefits, a new report has found.

The study by the charity Place2Be and Pro Bono Economics calculated that for every £1 invested in mental health at school-age there’s a return of more than £6 for society as a whole, mainly through higher employment and earnings and lower rates of truancy, crime, smoking and depression.

 “The children absolutely love the classes,” said Nina Hall who teaches mindfulness to seven-year-olds as part of their lessons at Rotherhithe Primary School in southeast London.

“We believe that the younger the better, we’re equipping the children with lifelong skills. You can’t achieve academic results without mental well-being.

“With the stresses of the curriculum and the problems of the playground, it’s a way for them to calm down and understand how they are feeling.”

The study looked at the improvement in the mental health of 4,548 pupils from 251 primary schools across the country who received one-to-one support from the charity’s counsellors over the last year.

“We think it’s important that policymakers and commissioners base their decisions on the best available evidence,” said Neil Pratt, chief economist at Pro Bono Economics.

“Charities are under pressure to demonstrate the value of their work and this kind of research is an important contribution to that.”

:: Kate launches mental health website for primary schools

The Duchess of Cambridge is a patron of the charity behind the report, Place2Be, which works with schools to improve the mental health of children.

It’s estimated that one in 10 children and young people in the UK have a mental health condition. Just over half (56%) of UK primary schools offer counselling services, while at secondary level it rises to eight out of 10.

“We wanted to show that intervening early in children’s mental health has a big impact,” said Sarah Kendrick, head of services at Place2Be

“We believe that getting in there early and really working with the children on their mental health issues early in life means that they will carry that benefit forward into their adolescence and adulthood.”

Mental health problems can have a significant impact on children and young people’s lives. Lack of intervention can damage their long-term prospects, but the right in-school support can be hugely beneficial.