Plans for thousands of mental health leads in schools announced by the Government
Up to 7,800 schools and colleges in England will be offered funding worth £9.5 million to train a senior mental health lead from their staff in the next academic year.
The Department for Education has announced new funding to train thousands of senior mental health leads for school and college staff and to provide helpful resources for students struggling with their mental health as a result of the pandemic.
The announcement, which comes at the start of Mental Health Awareness week, promises that up to 7,800 schools and colleges in England will be offered funding worth £9.5 million to train a senior mental health lead from their staff in the next academic year.
The project was due to start in the 2019/2020 academic year, however a Health and Social Care Select Committee evidence session uncovered that the tender was “paused” before the pandemic.
The Department for Education says additional £7 million funding will also be provided for the Wellbeing for Education Recovery programme, which provides free expert training, support and resources for staff dealing with children and young people experiencing additional pressures from the last year – including trauma, anxiety, or grief.
Last week, the UK Trauma Council – a panel of 22 trauma experts – appealed for more awareness of traumatic bereavement in children, particularly in the context of the coronavirus pandemic.
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said parents want children to “feel settled, calm and happy” while at school.
“I know how difficult the pandemic has been for many children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing, and the next few months will be crucial in supporting their recovery.”
The Department for Education will also fund an adapted ‘Link’ programme which is designed to improve partnerships between health and education leaders in local areas, raise awareness of mental health concerns and improve referrals to specialist help when needed.
The next Mental Health in Education Action Group, to take place on Monday 24 May, will continue to build on this support for all education settings, staff, parents, children and young people.
Led by Ministers, and including Youth Mental Health Ambassador Dr Alex George, the work aims to better align the education and mental health sectors, including charities, to address concerns among leaders and staff about how best to support their students post-pandemic.
Nadine Dorries, Minister for Mental Health, said children and young people have faced “unique challenges” as a result of the pandemic, adding: “while they have shown great resilience, I recognise the need for additional support.”
The Department for Education will also launch an Education Staff Wellbeing Charter this week, with a supposed cross-sector commitment to protect and promote the wellbeing of staff working in schools and colleges.
Within the higher education sector, Universities Minister Michelle Donelan and incoming President of Universities UK Professor Steve West will jointly chair a new roundtable on suicide prevention in June.
The aim of the roundtable is said to be to develop and support the adoption of the Suicide Safer Universities framework and promote good practice in the sector, helping to make sure students are well supported during their time at university.
Universities Minister Michelle Donelan said the mental health and wellbeing of students “remains a top priority”.
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