Jonathan Morgan welcomes mental health benefits of Assembly Government’s school nursing plan

Jonathan Morgan welcomes mental health benefits of Assembly Government’s school nursing plan

Shadow Health Minister Jonathan Morgan says the Welsh Assembly Government’s aim of one family nurse per secondary school could aid the early detection of mental health problems amongst the young. 

This week saw the launch of the Assembly Government’s plan which is geared to tackling a variety of health issues including mental health, obesity and drug and alcohol misuse.

Government officials are targeting 2011 as the date when this confidential service for schoolchildren will be in place.

Described as a “Revolution in school nursing” the initiative is one that Morgan, Chair of the Assembly’s Health, Wellbeing and Local Government Committee, says will help youngsters at a vulnerable time in their lives.

Morgan’s hope is that school nurses will identify mental health problems at a much earlier stage as there’s been a “huge increase” in the number of children needing help in this area during the past three decades.

He added that if issues such as underage drinking and obesity are not tackled now the NHS will pay the price in years to come.

Before the scheme’s launch children were asked what they would like to see in the new service and four possible models of school nursing will now be considered during the consultation phase.

Assembly Health Minister Edwina Hart said: “The challenge of improving Wales’ health must start with our children and young people.

“Increasing numbers of children are developing chronic conditions and complex health problems and it is only by improving support in schools that we can tackle these issues before they become endemic.

“The current school nursing service is variable across Wales and may not be providing a comprehensive service to all. Our goal is to ensure the health service provided to school-age children and young people is sustainable, adaptable to change, responsive and effective, ensuring continued development and improvement.”

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People sentenced to Imprisonment for Public Protection (IPP) have a high rate of mental illness and are not getting the support they need to put their lives back on track, suggests a report published this week by the Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health.

The charity’s report, “In the Dark: the mental health implications of imprisonment for public protection“, found that IPP prisoners in England and Wales are much more likely to have mental health problems than their fellow inmates.

An IPP is a sentence for people whose crimes are not serious enough for life imprisonment but whom the courts think are dangerous. There are 4,600 IPP prisoners in England and Wales and they cannot be released until the Parole Board thinks they are no longer dangerous.

According to the Sainsbury Centre, being on an IPP appears to make mental health issues worse because of the uncertainty and hopelessness it creates.

The report also found that IPP prisoners with mental health problems are often unable to participate in offending behaviour programmes. This is problematic because without these programmes prisoners are unlikely to be able to show they are no longer dangerous.

The Authors of “In The Dark” have called for an end to discrimination against prisoners with mental health problems and a change to the IPP system.

Sainsbury Centre Chief Executive Angela Greatley said: “The number of people given IPP sentences has risen beyond what anyone expected. We are concerned that some offenders with severe mental health problems are being sentenced to IPP instead of being detained in hospital.

“Recent changes to the law should prevent people who have committed minor offences from being put on IPP. But we also need to ensure that offenders with severe mental health problems are not placed on IPP if they need to be treated in hospital. And we must ensure that people are not kept in prison beyond their tariff just because they cannot get access to offending behaviour programmes or if the right support isn’t available for them in the community.”

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Report suggests indefinite prison sentences make mental health worse