“Helping schools to assess routinely the mental health of their students could help to get earlier help to more children and young people before they reach crisis point,” Centre for Mental Health chief executive Sarah Hughes said today.

Welcoming the Prime Minister’s announcement of plans to boost mental health support in schools and to produce an annual ‘state of the nation’s mental health’ report, Sarah Hughes said: “Every year, one child in ten experiences a mental health difficulty, and many more are struggling to maintain their mental health. We need to do more to help families, schools and communities to know the early signs of poor mental health and respond helpfully when someone is in difficulty. Too many children today are left without help until they need specialist treatment in a crisis. We have long called for routine monitoring of children’s mental health, as we do with their physical health, and warmly welcome today’s pledge.

“We are pleased that the Government is also pledging its support to the Samaritans helpline and appointing a minister for suicide prevention, which we hope will lead to greater cross government action to save lives and reduce the risk factors for suicide. This will need to look at every aspect of government policy, including in relation to social security, housing and education as well as health."

“All of these announcements will depend on the availability of high quality public health support in every local area of England. Public health budgets have been cut in recent years, and unlike the NHS there is still no long-term financial settlement for public health. Yet without it, we will not be able to take the necessary action to protect and promote children’s mental health and to prevent loss of life through suicide.

“We also need to see government investment in evidence based interventions to support children’s mental health, including proven parenting programmes which we know can make the world of difference to families who need support, and action to prevent children with behavioural difficulties being excluded from school.

“The Prime Minister has reiterated her commitment today to tackling the ‘burning injustices’ relating to mental health. We welcome that commitment and hope that it leads to significant social change, reduced inequality and investment in support at every life stage so that no one’s mental health is ignored.”