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Fresh approach to school mental health support

Childcare and Education Minister Sam Gyimah outlines new actions to support pupils’ mental health.

Mental health is at the centre of a new vision for schools being set out by Childcare Education Minister Sam Gyimah recently (20 November 2014).

One in 10 children has a diagnosable mental health disorder, and the new plans unveiled recently will help make sure young people get vital support when they need it.

Recently the government is announcing it will be working with the PSHEAssociation to help schools know how to teach pupils about mental health and banish the stigma which can leave young people with mental health problems feeling isolated.

Additionally, for the first time, it is announcing it will set out a blueprint for schools to use when delivering their counselling services, which will be informed by young people and experts to make sure the advice will meet the needs of the people it is intended to support.

Childcare and Education Minister Sam Gyimah said:

Many schools are already doing excellent work in providing support to their pupils but we know there is more to do to ensure schools enrich the whole child.

This is why we are setting the first in a series of actions as part of a fresh focus on mental health.

Developing young peoples’ character can sometimes be seen as being separate from academic attainment, but mental health problems can be a real barrier to achievement and they can certainly be approached and achieved together.

Sam Gyimah took responsibility for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services in schools in summer this year as part of a renewed focus on mental health in schools.

The government issued advice to schools earlier this year to identify and support those pupils whose behaviour suggests they may have underlying mental health problems - meaning fewer pupils will be wrongly labelled trouble makers.

Welcoming the announcement Catherine Roche, chief executive ofPlace2Be, a national children’s charity providing counselling for children in schools, said:

Place2Be welcomes the Department for Education’s renewed commitment to children’s mental health in school and the vital role of early intervention.

We are especially pleased that the department will not only be paying attention to PSHE provision, but also to the very important role services like Place2Be can play in school to improve children’s psychological wellbeing and potential to learn. We agree that developing young people’s character can be seen as being separate from academic attainment, but mental health problems can be a real barrier to achievement.

Involving experts and young people in order to improve the support and counselling available in schools for young people with mental health is vital. All this needs a long-term solution with sustained investment to help prevent children’s mental health problems today becoming society’s problems tomorrow.

Notes to editors

  1. For the first time, the government has called on voluntary organisations to bid for a share of £25 million for projects focused on improving young people’s mental health in schools as part of its Voluntary and Community Sector grants programme.

  2. The government is also working hard to improve how Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services are organised, commissioned and provided and to make it easier for young people to access help if they need it. The Children and Young People’s Mental Health and Wellbeing Taskforce, a joint initiative from both the Department for Education and Department of Health, is bringing together experts on children and young people’s mental health services and people who know about wider system transformation from education, social care and health.

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