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£9.3 million mental health training scheme launched

Every school and college will be offered mental health training through a series of workshops as part of a £9.3 million scheme led by the Anna Freud Centre.

As part of the Link Programme, the most appropriate member of staff will be put forwards to participate in the workshops alongside mental health specialists.

Education Secretary Damian Hinds said: “School and college should be a place where young people feel valued, supported and listened to – and I know that this is the case for so many thanks to the dedication of their teachers and support staff. But there are limits to what can be asked or expected of teachers - they are not, and should not, be mental health professionals.

“That’s why this new training is important, by bringing school and college staff into the same room as NHS professionals and encouraging them to work together, sharing their expertise and making sure they have the information they need so that more pupils get the right help at the right time.

“This builds on the significant measures we’ve already put in place to improve children’s wellbeing, including our new mandatory health education curriculum and the mental health first aid training being offered to schools and colleges," he added.

The scheme is designed to provide pupils experiencing mental health problems with better joined up care and support across schools, colleges and NHS services. the programme also aims to raise awareness of mental health problems and improve referrals to specialist help when needed.

The training will start in September and will be rolled out to schools and colleges in phases over four years, being offered to up to 22,000 schools and colleges, including alternative provision settings.

The Link Programme will deliver just under 1,000 training sessions across England involving two whole-day workshops for up to 20 schools at a time to cover all 22,000 schools.

The four-year scheme is funded by the Department for Education and builds on 1,500 schools and colleges that have already taken up this training during the pilot stage of the programme.

Training will start in areas where schools and colleges are already attached to Mental Health Support Teams, after the government’s announcement last December that these teams would be created in 25 ‘trailblazer’ areas.

CEO of the Anna Freud Centre Professor Peter Fonagy said: “With half of all lifetime cases of mental health disorders beginning by the age of 14, there is no greater investment we can make from an economic or moral perspective than to promote the physical and mental health of children and young people. We need to give them the help they need when they need it and to think differently about how to deliver support. The Link Programme does exactly that.

“The Link Programme brings together mental health and education professionals to work together to promote mental health and alleviate children and young people’s distress. This way we can identify their needs early and sign post them to the best support.

“This is a transformative programme and one which we at the Anna Freud Centre are proud to lead. It’s an indication of the groundswell of support that it is funded by the Department for Education, supported by NHS England and 13 partners from local authorities, health providers and the charity sector," he concluded.

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