New online resources designed by health and education experts will be provided to schools and colleges to boost mental health support for staff and pupils, the government has announced.
The resources are designed to encourage teachers and pupils to talk more confidently about the anxieties and concerns they feel as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, as pupils and staff begin to return to school.
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Videos, webinars and teaching materials, produced in partnership with charities, will be made available to schools and colleges.
The goal is that they will help to foster conversations about mental health and reassure young people who are worried about the impact of the virus on their lives.
Coronavirus: Mental health support as schools reopen
As more pupils return to the classroom as part of the government’s phased approach to the wider opening of schools, the Department for Education has announced grants worth more than £750,000 for the Diana Award, the Anti-Bullying Alliance and the Anne Frank Trust – to help hundreds of schools and colleges build relationships between pupils, boost their resilience, and continue to tackle bullying both in person and online.
A new £95,000 pilot project with the Education Support Partnership will focus on teachers’ and leaders’ mental health, providing online peer support and telephone supervision from experts to around 250 school leaders.
Children and families minister Vicky Ford said there had never been a more important time to speak about mental health and wellbeing.
She continued: “Schools and colleges are often a safe haven for children and young people, but the challenges we face at this time mean we are all more likely to feel anxious or sad – no matter our age or circumstances.
“These new resources, created with charities and health experts, will encourage confident conversations between friends, colleagues, pupils and their teachers, and improve our understanding of how to make ourselves and others feel better.
Minister for mental health Nadine Dorries said it was normal to feel distress or anxiety "during these uncertain and unusual times", but the important thing was to get help.
"We know the impact on our children and young people has been especially tough, which is why as schools return we’re determined to equip teachers and pupils with the tools they need to look after their wellbeing," she said.
A new training module for teachers will also be published next week to support them in giving lessons on the government’s new Relationships, Sex and Health Education (RSHE) curriculum, which will make mental health and wellbeing a compulsory part of pupils’ education in primary and secondary school.