Thousands of schools and colleges across England are to receive part of a £17 million government investment package aimed at boosting mental health support for students.
Announced in time for Mental Health Awareness Week, the new funds will go toward training mental health support staff for schools with the aim to provide a better support system for children and young people to benefit from in the wake of the pandemic.
A total of 7800 schools and colleges across England will receive part of a £9.5 million boost to train a senior mental health lead within the next academic year, with aims to offer similar funding to all state schools and colleges by 2025.
A further £7 million of the budget will be allocated to a Wellbeing for Education Recovery programme, providing free expert training, support and resources for educational staff handling the impact of the pandemic on their student’s mental health.
Funds will also be given to an adapted form of its ‘Link’ programme – a scheme established in 2019 with the aim to improve relationships between local health and education bodies and increase referrals to specialists when help is needed.
The new funding comes alongside a larger £79 million investment into youth mental health that focuses on wider community mental health services for young people, as well as support provided in schools.
The money will go toward expanding access to services, giving an estimated 22,500 more children and young people access to help and support by 2021 to 2022 – including access to talking therapies and cognitive behavioural therapy.
As a result of the investment, NHS England says an estimated 400 mental health support teams will be set up in 3000 schools in England, offering support to up to 3 million pupils by 2023.
A recent UK wide survey of 11 to 18-year-olds, carried out by Censuswide on behalf of Children in Need, found that 68% of respondents believe that young people's mental health in general has worsened as a result of the pandemic, with 25% feeling it is 'much worse'.
Despite such a general deterioration in their mental health, one third (34%) of young people still do not feel comfortable asking for help if they need it.
“This funding is a positive step to help address mental health problems, which have been exacerbated during the pandemic, particularly for children living in families with lower incomes and whose parents may be experiencing financial difficulties," says Councillor Teresa Heritage, Vice Chairman of the Local Government Association’s Children and Young People Board.
“Supporting children early on to reduce the need for clinical interventions means more can receive help when they need it, rather than waiting until they are unwell.
"It is vital that effective and evidence-based mental health and wellbeing services and statutory mental health services for children are able to meet existing, new and unmet demand that has built up during the pandemic.”
To read the full government press release regarding the £17 million investment, click here.
Written by Alice Lynes News reporter for Talking Mental Health Twitter & Instagram: @alicelynes