Children: Mental Health

Department for Education written question – answered on 21st July 2020.

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Photo of Mick Whitley Mick Whitley Labour, Birkenhead

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent assessment the Government has made of the effect of support for children’s mental health and well-being on levels of academic attainment.

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

We know that children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing are associated with their educational attainment and other long-term outcomes. That is why we are committed to support schools in promoting good mental wellbeing and ensuring that children and young people get the help and support they need, with the right support from specialist services.

The return to school is a vital factor in supporting the mental wellbeing of pupils, in addition to providing more opportunities for physical activity, attendance at school allows social interaction with peers, carers and teachers, which benefits wellbeing. To support this, we have encouraged schools to focus on mental wellbeing as pupils return.

We have now published detailed plans for all children and young people to return to full-time education from September. The guidance highlights the particular need to focus on pastoral support and mental wellbeing as a central part of what schools provide, in order to re-engage pupils, rebuild social interaction with their friends and teachers and provide a sound basis for academic catch-up. 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.

The government has sent a clear message that NHS mental health services remain open, and we have recently provided over £9 million to leading mental health charities to help them expand and reach those most in need. This includes a number of programmes which specifically support the mental health of children and young people, and all NHS mental health trusts are providing 24/7 open access telephone lines to support people of all ages.

For the longer term, we remain committed to delivering our joint green paper programme with the Department of Health and Social Care and NHS England, including introducing new mental health support teams (MHSTs), and testing approaches to deliver four week waiting times for access to NHS support. One of the core functions of the MHSTs will be giving timely advice to school and college staff, and liaising with external specialist services, to help children and young people to get the right support, stay in education and achieve to their potential.

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