Educational Institutions: Mental Health Services

Department for Education written question – answered on 27th March 2017.

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Photo of Grahame Morris Grahame Morris Labour, Easington

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what support her Department has made available to schools, colleges and universities to provide access to mental health services to students (a) throughout the academic year and (b) at exam times.

Photo of Edward Timpson Edward Timpson Minister of State (Education)

Children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing is a priority for this Government and we know that schools, colleges and universities can play an important role in promoting good mental wellbeing at all times during the academic cycle.

To support schools we have provided a range of information, support, advice and guidance. This includes guidance on how to ensure school-based counselling services achieve the best outcomes for all students, including vulnerable children and young people www.gov.uk/government/publications/counselling-in-schools; guidance on teaching about mental health within their PSHE curriculum www.pshe-association.org.uk/curriculum-and-resources?ResourceTypeID=3; and providing teachers with access to free on-line support on a range of mental health issues via MindEd www.minded.org.uk.

However schools and colleges are not mental health specialists and need support from mental health services. Many schools and college already work closely with local services. To help develop these links further we are extending our joint training pilot for education and mental health professionals in up to 1200 more schools and colleges across 20 areas.

We are also undertaking a programme of randomised control trials of promising preventative programmes that support positive mental health, as well as launching a programme of activity on peer support. In addition, we are working closely with the Department of Health, which is funding the provision of ‘Mental Health First Aid’ training to all secondary schools over the next 3 years.

Higher Education Institutions are autonomous bodies, independent from the Government. There is a great deal of guidance and support available to institutions, and many offer advice and counselling services and adopt local systems to help identify students who may be finding it hard to cope. The Universities UK’s ‘Wellbeing in Higher Education’ programme focuses on the need for a whole university approach to mental health and wellbeing. This programme is already underway, working in partnership with Public Health England, the Higher Education Funding Council for England, expert voices from student services and activist charities such as Student Minds.

Examinations are an important part of education and a vital stepping-stone to future success in life, whatever route young people choose to take. Excellent teaching is the key to ensuring pupils feel fully prepared and ready for exams, and schools should have strong pastoral support in place to help pupils deal with any worries they might have throughout the year. Teachers know when young people are doing well and if there is an issue, and they are best placed to work with young people and their families to respond to signs of stress and to help them access the appropriate support.

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