Pupils: Coroanvirus

Department for Education written question – answered on 17th July 2020.

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Photo of Simon Baynes Simon Baynes Conservative, Clwyd South

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to support pupils’ mental health during the covid-19 outbreak.

Photo of Vicky Ford Vicky Ford The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

We have been working closely with partners to provide resources and guidance to support and promote children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing during the COVID-19 outbreak. This includes signposting to resources on supporting and promoting mental wellbeing among the list of resources to help children to learn at home, which are available here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-online-education-resources.

We have encouraged schools to focus on pastoral support as more pupils return to school this term. Children in Reception, year 1 and year 6 are now able to return to primary school, and year 10 and year 12 pupils are able to receive face-to-face support at secondary school. Primary schools with capacity can bring back additional groups, in line with existing protective measures. We have also given schools the flexibility to have face-to-face ‘check-ups’ with all pupils during the summer term.

The return to school is a key part of supporting the mental health and wellbeing of pupils, as in addition to providing more opportunities for physical activity, attendance at school allows social interaction with peers, carers and teachers, which benefits wellbeing. The department has now published detailed plans for all children and young people to return to full-time education from September. The guidance for schools is available here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak/guidance-for-full-opening-schools.

We are working with the Department of Health and Social Care to put in place further specific support for school staff to understand the issues that pupils will face with their mental wellbeing. This includes training for teachers, such as a new module developed with clinical experts on how to teach about mental health in health education. More information is available here:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/teaching-about-mental-wellbeing.

Access to mental health support is more important than ever during the COVID-19 outbreak. NHS services remain open. Leading mental health charities are being supported to deliver additional services through the £5 million Coronavirus Mental Health Response Fund. During Mental Health Awareness Week, the government also announced that a further £4.2 million will be awarded to mental health charities, including the Samaritans, Young Minds, and Bipolar UK.

All NHS mental health trusts have been asked to ensure that there are 24/7 open access telephone lines to support people of all ages. Public Health England and Health Education England have also developed advice and guidance for parents and professionals on supporting children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing, which is available here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-on-supporting-children-and-young-peoples-mental-health-and-wellbeing.

In addition, children and young people can access free confidential support anytime from government-backed voluntary and community sector organisations either by texting SHOUT to 85258, or by calling Childline on 0800 1111 or The Mix on 0808 808 4994. Children and young people can also find online information on COVID-19 and mental health on the Young Minds website, which is available here:

https://youngminds.org.uk/about-us/reports/coronavirus-impact-on-young-people-with-mental-health-needs/.

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