Government pledges £215m to bring mental health treatment into schools

In a new mental health Green Paper, the government also proposes £95 million to fund a senior lead for mental health in every school

Adi Bloom

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Mental health support teams will provide support and treatment on school premises, so that mental health problems can be addressed before they become too serious, under new government proposals.

And every school in England will be encouraged to appoint a designated senior lead for mental health, whose role will be to help pupils to access specialist therapies.

In a Green Paper on mental health, due to be published tomorrow, the government will outline its £300 million plans to improve the mental health support available for pupils.

Classroom therapy

Up to £95 million will be available from 2019, to fund the new senior leads in mental health. This funding will be used to enable these teachers to coordinate school-based support for mental ill health.

Senior mental health leads will also be responsible for developing a whole-school approach to mental health and wellbeing. This approach will range from helping pupils access specialist therapies and NHS treatments to reducing bullying and other behaviours that might cause mental distress.

In addition, £215 million will be used to fund new mental health support teams. The role of these teams will be to improve links between schools and the NHS, providing a range of treatments in or near schools and colleges.

The Department for Education suggests that members of these teams could also be trained to offer cognitive behavioural therapy in the classroom.

Education secretary Justine Greening said that these proposals would strengthen the links between schools and experts able to give pupils the support they need.

“We want every young person to grow up feeling confident about themselves and their future,” she said. “Too often, mental health issues can have a lifelong impact and affect their performance at school, careers, and ultimately their life opportunities.”

'Crisis in our classrooms'

The government will also pilot a new four-week waiting time for access to child and adolescent mental health services. At the moment, pupils in some areas have to wait months for an appointment. 

In addition, the Green Paper proposes ensuring that teachers at every primary and secondary in the country are offered mental health awareness training.

Sarah Brennan, chief executive of the mental health charity YoungMinds, said: “We’re facing a mental health crisis in our classrooms, and right now far too many children are not getting the support that they need. Too often, we hear from young people who have started to self-harm, become suicidal or dropped out of school while waiting for the right help.

“Long waits have a devastating impact on young people and their families, and currently only one in four young people with mental health problems gets the help they need.”

The consultation on the Green Paper will run for approximately 13 weeks.

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Adi Bloom

Adi Bloom is Tes comment editor

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