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£7M funding for school mental health leads

Funding of £7 million has been announced by the Department for Education for schools and colleges to train a senior mental health lead.

Teacher and student

Senior Mental Health Leads were announced in the government’s green paper on children and young people’s mental health. They will play an important role in helping schools and colleges embed a culture of openness when it comes to mental health, whilst also forging stronger links with local health services to ensure young people can access the right level of support.

Children and Families Minister, Will Quince, said: “It is vital that we continue to support the wellbeing and mental health of young people alongside their academic recovery, and senior mental health leads will play an important role in doing this. I am grateful to those who have signed up for training so far, as well as all education staff who actively support their pupils’ wellbeing.

“I am continuing to work across government to ensure we meet the commitments set out in our mental health green paper. This includes rolling out mental health support teams so that millions of children across England can access the support they need,” he added.

The green paper committed to offering training to all eligible settings in England by 2025, and new figures released today show that over 8,000 schools and colleges claimed a £1,200 grant to train a senior mental health lead between October 2021 and March 2022. This includes half of all state-funded secondary schools in England – well above ambitions to reach one third of settings.

The announced funding will mean up to 8,000 more schools and colleges – the equivalent of two-thirds of eligible settings - will be able to apply for a training grant by the end of this financial year, which will support them to promote and support the mental health and wellbeing of all pupils.

Schools have provided positive feedback about the training so far, with one member of staff writing that they “feel much better prepared and empowered to support students”, which going forward will be vital as pupils return to normality following the pandemic.

The government has also announced funding for five charities and organisations working to tackle bullying and champion respect, to continue supporting pupils in thousands of schools in England. After a successful first six months, National Children’s Bureau (Anti-Bullying Alliance), Diversity Role Models, Equaliteach, Anne Frank Trust and The Diana Award will receive an additional £1 million to continue the rollout of training and support programmes until March 2023.

The grants will focus on projects aimed at tackling bullying against children who identify as LGBT, those with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), and victims of hate-related bullying.

More than 2.4 million children and young people now have access to Mental Health Support Teams in school and college and NHS England has also announced that over 500 teams will be confirmed this year, which will surpass the government’s original ambition to have 400 teams in place by April 2023.

The Department of Health and Social Care also recently launched a call for evidence to inform a new 10 year mental health plan. This will set an ambitious agenda for setting out where the mental health of the nation should be a decade from now.

Minister for Mental Health Gillian Keegan, said: “The last two years have been particularly challenging and although children are incredibly resilient, it’s crucial they can access mental health support as early as possible.

“We’re making great progress on better supporting young people’s mental health and this additional funding to train senior mental health leads will complement our work on the accelerated rollout of Mental Health Support Teams in schools and expansion of community services which is well underway.

“We have recently opened a call for evidence and I encourage people of all ages to share their views to inform a new 10-year mental health plan to keep the nation in positive mental wellbeing,” she added.

Schools can find further information on how to register for a senior mental health lead training grant here.

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