Best Practice

Mental health, safeguarding & child protection: Three key considerations

The links between safeguarding, child protection and mental health are extensive, multi-layered, and complex – what should we be doing to keep children safe? Elizabeth Rose advises

When visiting schools, I am often told that the mental health and wellbeing of children is their primary safeguarding concern, with spiraling numbers of children experiencing mental health problems and a lack of support due to overstretched external agencies exacerbating the issue.

And this feedback is not just anecdotal. The Royal College of Psychiatrists recently analysed NHS digital data (RCP, 2021) and found that:

Schools are the frontline in supporting children with their mental health and safeguarding leads are often the people who pick up these issues and make decisions around support. But how does mental health interact with child protection, our statutory obligations and children’s vulnerability across the board – and most importantly, what should we do about it?

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