The UK's first university centre for improving mental health in schools is launched

Centre at Leeds Beckett University will offer professional development courses and a mental health quality mark

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Britain’s first university centre dedicated to improving mental health in schools has opened.

The Carnegie Centre of Excellence for Mental Health in Schools has been established at Leeds Beckett University.

Similar centres already exist in the US and Canada. Its aim is to create a network of educators, mental health practitioners and researchers to define and communicate best practice for schools across the UK. It will collaborate with external organisations, developing new projects and initiatives. Staff also hope to inform government policy on mental health in schools.

The centre will offer an initial teacher-training (ITT) programme, which will allow new teachers to become experts in mental health support. This will cover relationships with pupils, as well as with their parents.

'Mental health first'

Professional development courses for classroom teachers will cover a range of topics, including counselling in schools and mental health leadership. Centre staff will also show senior leaders how to develop a whole-school strategy for mental health.

Earlier this month, Lord Layard, director of the wellbeing programme at the London School of Economics’ Centre for Economic Performance, called for all schools to employ a senior teacher in charge of mental health.

Damien Page, dean of the Leeds Beckett school of education, said: “Focusing on improving classroom practice is not enough. We need to address the mental health of children first, and train our students to look after children in the widest sense.”

Staff at the centre have also devised a school mental health quality mark, which schools will be able to apply for.

Members of the centre will be invited to an annual conference, the first of which will be held on 26 June.

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