Schools offered Covid-19 mental health support in £8m government programme

Written by: Pete Henshaw | Published:
Image: Adobe Stock

Mental health experts are to provide training and support to schools as part of a national programme to tackle the emotional impact of Covid-19 on students and staff.

The £8 million initiative is to run from this September until March 2021 and the funding will be used to appoint and train “local experts” to adapt and provide training and resources to nominated staff in all state-funded schools and colleges in England, providing advice and support through to March 2021.

Entitled Wellbeing for Education Return, the programme is to be developed by MindEd, an e-learning mental health platform, and delivered by the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families.

It is being funded by Department for Education (DfE), Department of Health and Social Care, Health Education England, NHS England and Public Health England.

The training will be offered to every school and college in England and will be aimed at supporting “student wellbeing, resilience and recovery”, to prevent longer-term mental health problems developing, and to help those who have pre-existing difficulties that may have been exacerbated by the coronavirus lockdown.

Nominated staff will receive the training via interactive webinars, which can then be shared more widely within their school or college. All training materials will also be made available directly to staff to use.

The announcement comes after the DfE published information in June signposting mental health resources to help schools and colleges support students and staff (DfE, 2020).

Professor Peter Fonagy, chief executive of the Anna Freud Centre, said: “This new school year may be the toughest that teachers and pupils will have ever faced. Deprived and marginalised children and young people with pre-existing conditions are likely to be the worst affected by the fallout of the pandemic. Bringing together expertise from mental health and education in this programme is both necessary and welcome.

“Ensuring that every teacher and school and college leader has the support they need to respond to their pupils’ mental health and wellbeing needs is the single most important task we have on our hands in education.”

Education secretary Gavin Williamson added: “Wellbeing for Education Return has been created with input from heath partners, mental health experts, local authorities, and schools and colleges. Part of the funding will be used to recruit local experts to deliver the training programme to nominated staff in schools and colleges, and provide advice to school leaders through to March 2021.”

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