Let's have equality in mental health care;Letter;Opinion

9th July 1999 at 01:00
IT was a great relief to read the articles by Chris Bunting and Adam Abdelnoor exposing the problem of children's mental health (TES, June 25).

There is a dismal lack of care for children with emotional and behavioural problems. The prescriptive strait-jacket of the national curriculum will ensure that increasing numbers of children will be unable to cope, and will exhibit disturbed behaviour for which, no doubt, teachers will be blamed.

There seems to be a belief in some educational circles that a child's emotional problems should not concern the teacher, but should concern either the medical profession or social services. The implication is that a teacher is there merely to instruct a child and achieve the required targets or examination results. I cannot accept this, and I am sure that neither can the vast majority of teachers.

I believe we need to get back to an education system where the emphasis is more on developing the whole child in a relaxed, non-threatening environment. We also need to provide for children who cannot cope with mainstream school by opening specialist, therapeutic units wherever there is a need. These would be funded jointly by medical, educational and social services, and cater for children and parents for varying periods - and the national curriculum should be disapplied totally from these units.

It is wrong to send disturbed, distressed children to boarding schools miles away from their homes, and it is wrong to give them minimal amounts of home tuition and no therapy. We make proper provision for adults with seriously disturbed behaviour, so why should children not receive adequate care?

Money spent on the right kind of care and education for our children will ultimately save lives and money.

Christine Lees 13 Islestone Court Berwick-upon-Tweed Northumberland.

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