Responding to statements by Prime Minister Theresa May and Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, Ian Ashman, President of the Association of Colleges, said: “The Prime Minister Theresa May’s pledge of a green paper to investigate mental health services for children and young people is a welcome one.
“In colleges, we value the promotion of wellbeing to all young people and recognise the importance of early intervention and good support from mental health services in aiding students with mental ill-health issues. The inclusion of colleges in the pilot schemes for single points of contact and peer support for emotional wellbeing is timely. However, we would ask that the Prime Minister and the Secretaries of State for Health and Education include further education colleges in all their transformation plans, adding the college workforce to the programme of mental health first aid training for secondary school staff.
“Colleges are ideally placed to work with mental health services to support young people and adults as they work with students from the age of 16 upwards. Nearly three quarters of a million 16 to 18-year-olds study in a further education or sixth form college. It would be short-sighted of the Government to overlook so many young people by not including colleges in all aspects of their plans.
“Mental health services are stretched and cannot tackle this issue alone, but if they combine their energies with colleges, this will create an extremely powerful alliance to tackle mental ill-health.”