Damian writes a regular column in the Petersfield Post, and the latest this week touches on the pressures felt by young people today:
"Children today experience pressures that we as adults often find hard to appreciate, or possibly even understand.
We look at the choices and technological resources available to young people today, and it’s tempting to think life is much easier and better than it was, say twenty or thirty years ago.
But there are very real concerns that ready access to information from every corner of the globe and being remotely connected to others 24-7 is creating an environment that is proving extremely difficult for young people, in particular, to navigate.
Many parents worry about their children’s use of social media. Body image and self-confidence are particularly precarious in the age of the selfie, with a relentless pressure to compare and share among peer groups. The flip side of enjoying the instant connection of the internet is the inability to escape, and none of this is conducive to a child’s happiness and well-being.
Around one in ten children have a diagnosed mental health condition, which can have a devastating impact on their physical health, their relationships and their future prospects.
As Education Secretary, I want to make sure that our children are able to grow up to become happy and well-rounded individuals who know how to deal with the challenges of the modern world. Good physical and mental health is also at the heart of ensuring young people are ready for the adult world.
I was pleased to announce recently the Government’s plans to provide designated mental health leads in schools, earlier access to services through the creation of the new Mental Health Support teams and the piloting of a four week waiting time standard.
Around half of all schools already have a mental health lead, and every school and college will be incentivised to identify a lead to oversee their approach to mental health and well-being. All children and young people’s mental health services should identify a link for schools and colleges to provide rapid advice, consultation and signposting.
And as part of a recently announced consultation, we will be reviewing guidance and support for health education in both primary and secondary schools that covers mental well-being, good diet, adequate exercise, and avoiding the damaging effects and risks of drugs, smoking and excessive alcohol.
Some schools are doing much of this work already, but I’m pleased to say it will become compulsory by September 2020. By making health education a required part of the curriculum we are helping to give young people the tools they need to be ready to thrive when they leave school.
I met recently with representatives of the NHS CAMHS service responsible for Hampshire, and it is clear there is good work being done at a local level to support children and young people with mental health issues.
We’re right to be ambitious for our children – with A Level and GCSE results due later this month a key milestone for thousands of students across the country – but it’s also important we’re able to support them as they strive to fulfil their potential, whether pursuing an academic, technical or vocational route."
Written by Damian Hinds and published in the Petersfield Post on Wednesday 8th August 2018