Pupils are to be given routine mental health checks, Theresa May said tonight.
Primary and secondary schools will carry out ‘wellbeing’ assessments to spot potential issues.
Mental health problems among the young have increased six-fold over the past two decades and one in ten children now has a diagnosable condition.
Girls are most at risk, with self-harming reported among a fifth of those aged 14.
Mrs May said half of all mental health problems arise by the age of 14 yet only one in three get the right treatment.
The new checks are part of a £1.9billion plan to transform mental health services in schools.
The Prime Minister also announced:
- The appointment of the world’s first minister for suicide prevention;
- £1.8million to allow the Samaritans’ helpline to remain free for the next four years;
- At least mental health specialists are to be trained to work in schools for the first time, with the first intake to start by the end of next year and a 8,000 to be recruited long-term;
- Every school is to have a senior staff member responsible for mental health;
- The Government will publish an annual ‘state of the nation’ report on child mental health from next year.
Mrs May said: ‘We can end the stigma that has forced too many to suffer in silence. We can prevent the tragedy of suicide taking too many lives.
‘And we can give the mental wellbeing of our children the priority it so profoundly deserves.’
The new mental health assessments are to be made available to all schools as part of new classes on ‘mental resilience’ which will be part of the curriculum from 2020.
Downing Street stressed that although the classes will be mandatory, it will be up to each school whether they use the assessments.