Mental Health and Wellbeing in Schools

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 3:45 pm on 4th December 2018.

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Photo of Nick Gibb Nick Gibb Minister of State (Education) 3:45 pm, 4th December 2018

All pupils will be taught about mental health, covering content such as understanding emotions, identifying when someone is experiencing signs of poor mental health, simple self-care, and how and when to seek support.

The hon. Lady asked when health education would be made compulsory. We have already published draft guidance and consulted on it—the consultation closed on 7 November. It was well received, and 11,000 pieces of evidence were supplied to it. We will respond in due course. Our plan is to roll out the subject as compulsory in the academic year beginning in 2020. We hope for and expect early adopters from September 2019, but it will be compulsory a year later. We want to ensure that all schools have a proper lead team so that they can implement the policy as well as they can.

On the mental health Green Paper, while schools have an important role to play, teachers are not mental health professionals and they should not be expected to act as such. When more serious problems occur, schools should expect pupils and their family to be able to access support from specialist children and young people’s mental health services, voluntary organisations and local GPs. The £1.4 billion that we have already made available will play a significant role, but we want to do more and to provide a new service to link schools to mental health services more effectively, with swiftly available and clinically supervised support.

To enable that, our Green Paper set out proposals to support local areas to adopt an ambitious new collaborative approach. The cornerstone will be new mental health support teams to improve collaboration between schools and specialist services. We expect a workforce numbering in the thousands to be recruited over the next five years to form such teams. They will be trained to offer evidence-based interventions for those with mild to moderate mental health needs. The teams will be linked to groups of schools and colleges, and the staff will be supervised by clinicians. They will work closely with other professionals such as educational psychologists, school nurses, counsellors and social workers to assess and refer children for other specialist treatments, if necessary.