10 Downing Street
PM: mental health training for teachers will "make a real difference to children's lives"
The government has pledged that every secondary school in the country will be offered Mental Health First Aid training by 2020.
The government’s pledge to transform mental health services for young people has taken an important step forward with teachers and staff across the country starting training to identify and respond to early signs of mental health problems among pupils.
Delivered by the social enterprise organisation Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England, the training was originally announced by the Prime Minister in January as part of a series of measures to address the “hidden injustice” of poor mental health across society.
Around one in 10 children are believed to have a diagnosable mental health disorder, with half of all mental health conditions begin before the age of 14, making it vital that children with early symptoms receive the support they need.
However, research by the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT) found that 98% of teachers had come into contact with pupils who were experiencing mental health issues, but only 46% reported receiving training on children’s mental health.
The programme, backed in the first year by £200,000 in government funding, and delivered by the social enterprise Mental Health First Aid, will start with 1,000 staff and extend in years 2 and 3 to cover every secondary school in England. They will receive practical advice on how to deal with issues such as depression and anxiety, suicide and psychosis, self-harm, and eating disorders.
Participants in the training programme will be invited to become a Youth Mental Health First Aid Champion, and will help to share their knowledge and understanding of mental health across the school and wider community.
It is hoped that this will mean more young people will get fast and appropriate support for emerging mental health problems, and that all children will receive the highest quality pastoral care through their adolescence.
Prime Minister Theresa May said:
When I stood on the steps of Downing Street on my first day as Prime Minister, I said that the disparity in mental health services was one of the burning injustices our country faces.
Since then we have announced real progress in tackling this unfairness, and this training will make a real difference to children’s lives by ensuring they have access to sensitive and swift support.
Tackling poor mental health is a huge challenge, and we will keep our promises and meet that challenge with the comprehensive cross-society response that is required.
Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, said:
Teachers provide outstanding pastoral care and support for their pupils, but many have said that they would appreciate more formal training on how to understand and respond to acute mental distress.
We know that identifying symptoms of mental illness in their early stages can help put young people on the road to recovery. This initiative will mean more children can get the fast and sensitive support they need to stay well, and help build a society with far better understanding of mental ill health.
Education Secretary Justine Greening yesterday said:
Growing up in today’s world is not always easy and for some young people the problems can be acute. That’s why we are stepping up our support for children with mental illness to help them become resilient, confident adults who can go as far as their talents will take them.
This new training will give teachers more confidence in tackling mental health issues and build on the fantastic support we know they already give their pupils. It’s great that so many schools are taking part and I’d encourage others to follow their lead.
Caroline Hounsell, MHFA England Director and lead of the Youth MHFA in Schools programme, commented, saying:
Mental ill health in young people is a growing health concern, with half of all lifetime cases of mental health issues starting by the age of 14. It’s therefore vital that we put the right measures in place to ensure that young people get the help they need and at the earliest possible stage.
We are really pleased to be involved in this government-backed programme and supporting our instructors to deliver this important schools-focused training.
John McKee, Headteacher, Patcham High School, Brighton, commented:
We are delighted to be one of the first schools in the country to be involved in the Youth MHFA in Schools programme.
Around one in 10 children have a diagnosable mental health issue – roughly three children in every classroom – so upskilling frontline school staff to be able to support these children is crucially important.
Sarah Brennan, Chief Executive of YoungMinds, yesterday said:
Children and young people today are facing a huge range of pressures, from exam stress to online bullying, which inevitably take a toll on their mental health. Many of these pressures become particularly intense during secondary school so it is important and welcome that mental health first aid training will be available for secondary schools.
This training is a move in the right direction and will help give staff the opportunity to gain confidence and understand mental health better. We hope it will encourage more leadership teams to put student wellbeing at the heart of their school which will benefit both students and schools alike.
Young people need to learn about wellbeing and resilience from a young age, so when they leave school they are equipped to deal with problems and have the confidence to seek help. It is vital that this work is part of a whole-school approach to wellbeing, and that mental health is made a priority across the education system.
Latest News from
10 Downing Street
Prime Minister announces Appointments Secretary13/08/2020 15:03:23
The Prime Minister has announced that he has appointed Mr Richard Tilbrook to be his Appointments Secretary.
Prime Minister announces £50 million investment in grassroots football pitches19/07/2021 12:12:00
£50 million investment to build and improve grassroots football pitches across the UK.
Prime Minister urges caution as England moves to Step 419/07/2021 10:20:00
England has moved to Step 4 of the Roadmap.
Government sets out action to stop online racist abuse in football16/07/2021 15:10:00
Change in the law announced to extend Football Banning Orders to those who are abusive in connection with football on social media.
PM sets out new ‘County Deals’ to devolve power to local communities in Levelling Up speech16/07/2021 13:20:00
PM Boris Johnson yesterday set out his vision on how the government would deliver on the central purpose of his premiership – to level up and unite the whole of the United Kingdom.
PM statement on Overseas Development Aid motion: 13 July 202113/07/2021 14:33:00
Prime Minister Boris Johnson made a statement in the House of Commons on Overseas Development Aid (ODA).
Prime Minister confirms move to Step 413/07/2021 10:38:00
Step 4 of the Roadmap to go ahead on Monday 19 July.
Prime Minister to urge caution ahead of move to step 412/07/2021 16:15:00
PM Boris Johnson will hold a press conference to confirm whether England can move to step 4 of the Roadmap.