Labour Assembly Member Lee Waters has secured a commitment from Wales’ Education Secretary to do more to help schools support children and young people experiencing mental health problems.

Kirsty Williams AM agreed with Llanelli’s AM that further professional development opportunities be provided for teachers to help them spot the early signs of mental ill-health.

The Cabinet Secretary agreed to look at innovative practices across Wales to identify where improvements can be made to early recognition and provision of support.

Speaking in the Assembly last week, Mr Waters acknowledged that young people struggle to find appropriate support both within schools and in the community through CAMHS and added that “the range of mental health interventions going into schools often isn’t joined up and can be confusing”.

In response, Kirsty Williams AM acknowledged that some schools had difficulties in obtaining specialist services and explained that she had joined forces with the Cabinet Secretary for Health to joint-fund a £1.4 million CAMHS inreach project that is happening on a pilot basis in a number of areas across Wales.

She said:“The purpose of that pilot is to understand how best we can support teachers and school staff to support their children and what the most effective mechanism of putting specialist mental health services into schools actually is.”

The Minister added that if the pilot proves successful, she would be rolling that programme out further, as well as developing a new curriculum, training teachers to identify mental health difficulties and to look at innovative practice across Wales "where the focus is very much on early intervention and building children's self-esteem.”

Lee Waters added: “Today we know that around 70 per cent of children and young people who experience mental health conditions have not received the appropriate interventions at an early enough age. This has to change.”

“Schools are finding it difficult to provide the right help for young people struggling with a range of mental health issues.

"It’s crucial that the Welsh Education Secretary takes steps to help schools put the right support in place.

"There needs to be a clear route to access information and to signpost pupils to the help that they need.”