UK announces £17m funding to boost mental health support in schools and colleges Photo: iStock
THE UK on Monday (10) announced more than £17 million to build on mental health support already available in schools and colleges as part of mental health awareness week.
Up to 7,800 schools and colleges in England will be offered funding worth £9.5m to train a senior mental health lead from their staff in the next academic year.
The government is committed to offering this training to all state schools and colleges by 2025, a statement said.
As part of the initiative, £7m will be provided to the wellbeing for education recovery programme which provides free expert training, support and resources for staff dealing with children and young people experiencing trauma, anxiety, or grief.
The programme builds on the success of the department for education’s Wellbeing for Education Return, used by more than 90 per cent of councils since its launch last summer.
“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. Getting back into the classroom was a vital step in this process but success in school and college goes beyond an excellent education – as parents we want our children to feel settled, calm and happy while they learn,” said education secretary Gavin Williamson.
“That’s why we’re providing new funding to make experts available for support, advice and early intervention or specialist help, so every young person knows who and where to turn to as we build back better after the pandemic.”
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 on 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 pupils and students post-pandemic.
Children and families minister Vicky Ford said: “The past year, staff have been working so hard to support their pupils so I’m thrilled to be able to reassure them that we’re increasing funding, specialist support and training materials for expert care – building on the success of Wellbeing for Education Return and ensuring that the help is there for the children who need it.”
Minister for mental health, Nadine Dorries has said that access to support for children and young people is essential and the new funding further cements our commitment to their wellbeing, equipping them with the tools to look after their mental health.
This week, an Education Staff Wellbeing Charter will be launched with a cross-sector commitment to protect and promote the wellbeing of all staff working in schools and colleges.
The department for education also appointed Timewise – the national flexible working training provider – to train staff to implement flexible working where possible, and eight flexible working ambassador schools have been appointed to champion best practice and work with other schools locally.
Universities minister Michelle Donelan and incoming president of Universities UK professor Steve West will jointly chair a new round table on suicide prevention in June.
It will develop and support the adoption of the Suicide Safer Universities framework and promote good practice in the sector, the statement added.
Universities minister Michelle Donelan said: “The Suicide Prevention round table with UUK is an important step in our commitment to supporting higher education providers to care for their students experiencing mental health issues, and I am proud to be a part of it. I strongly urge anyone who is struggling with mental health issues to seek help from their local NHS trust, which now provides dedicated, 24-hour support lines, including suicide prevention support.”