A new coalition of health and education experts in the UK assess the impact of the pandemic on the mental health and wellbeing of children, young people and education staff across England.
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson was joined by ministers from across Government, as well as Youth Mental Health Ambassador Dr. Alex George, to discuss how best to respond to the mental health issues of greatest concern including the increase in eating disorders and self-harm among young people, and how to help education staff manage their mental wellbeing.
The coalition agreed to take forward more action across a range of areas, including boosting the support available to help children and young people move between schools and year groups, and looking at how schools and colleges can target funding and recovery support to ensure that support reaches pupils who need it the most.
Today’s meeting builds on the Government’s commitment to ensure millions more children and young people have access to specialist support, including significantly expanded mental health services, backed by an additional £79 million.
The number of Mental Health Support Teams – which provide early intervention on mental health and emotional wellbeing issues in schools and colleges – will grow from the 59 set up by last March to around 400 by April 2023, supporting nearly three million children and young people.
“Getting young people back into schools and colleges has been a national priority, not just because of the significant benefits to their education but because of the benefit to their wellbeing as well. Across society the sacrifices we have all had to make to battle to pandemic has had an impact on wellbeing and mental health, and this is especially true for young people who have had to sacrifice so much over the last year,” said Education Secretary Gavin Williamson.
Jointly chaired by the Education Secretary, Minister for Children and Families Vicky Ford and Universities Minister Michelle Donelan, the first meeting of the action group comes as millions of children and young people reunite with friends, classmates and their teachers, returning to the classroom with mental health and wellbeing at the centre of Government plans to enable all pupils to settle back into their daily routines.
“While the pandemic continues to affect so many people in our country, our commitment to improving mental health support for all remains firm, especially through early intervention and specialist care for the young people who need it most,” said Children and Families Minister Vicky Ford.