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Training starts for mental health leads in schools to deliver whole-school approach to mental health

Schools will be able to apply for a grant to fund mental health leads to ensure pupils’ wellbeing is prioritised alongside their education recovery

Teacher and student

Mental health leads in schools were first mooted in the children and young people’s mental health green paper published in 2017. The leads would gain knowledge and skills to ensure a ‘whole-school approach’ to mental health. The green paper said that the leads would work closely with Mental Health Support Teams, which would be based in and near schools and colleges and provide a link between schools and the NHS to support children and young people’s mental health.

Backed by a total of £9.5 million, eligible schools and colleges will be able to apply for a grant of £1,200 to fund training on how to use existing mental health resources more effectively, identify students who need mental health support, and on how to improve working with local mental health services so that children and young people who need specialist help, get this as soon as possible.

Minister for Children and Families, Will Quince, said: “I’m always impressed by the resilience and tenacity of our young people, but we know they have faced huge challenges during the pandemic so we owe it to them to prioritise their mental health and wellbeing as we build back better.

“This training is part of the £17 million package we’ve put in place to build on the mental health support available in schools, which also includes work to help education staff respond to children who may have experienced trauma, anxiety, or grief.

“Today marks an important step forward in our commitment to making wellbeing a central part of education recovery, by giving school and college staff the confidence to not only teach about good mental health but also understand what steps to take if they feel a pupil is struggling,” he added.

The government remains committed to offering this training to all state schools and colleges by 2025.

The Department for Education, Public Health England, and the Children and Young People’s Mental Health Coalition have updated guidance on developing good mental health practices in school which includes support on taking a whole school and college approach to mental wellbeing.

This guidance, first published in 2015 and updated to reflect current need, will provide schools and colleges with further information on how to develop mental health and wellbeing practices that help support all of their pupils, including through better leadership practices, effective working with local services, and a supportive culture and ethos. It is supported by a range of research, which suggests that taking a coordinated approach to mental health and wellbeing can lead to improved emotional health and wellbeing in children and young people

Schools and colleges can also access support and training to help them deliver the new Relationship, Sex, and Health Education (RSHE) curriculum, which became mandatory to teach in 2020. The curriculum includes modules detailing the importance of mental wellbeing, and all schools have been encouraged to set aside INSET time to review the available RSHE teacher training modules and guidance.

It follows the publication of children’s commissioner for England Dame Rachel de Souza’s results of The Big Ask where more than half of the 500,000 young people who responded said that mental health was a priority for them.

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