The Government has announced plans to train ‘mental health support teams’ to be placed in schools and colleges to support young people with mental ill health.
It will begin to train staff for the teams at seven universities across the country in January. It is also planning to place ‘senior mental health leads’ in schools and colleges to ensure there is a ‘whole school’ approach to mental health and wellbeing.
The Government said some schools would begin to receive the support already next year, with between one fifth and one quarter of the country covered by ‘2023 to 2024’.
It did not specify the amount of funding this would require but said it was linked to the Prime Minister’s annoncement of £20.5bn extra for the NHS for the next five years, and the long-awaited NHS long-term plan that was due to be published before Christmas but now appears to be delayed.
The Government said the support teams would:
- build on support already in place from school counsellors, nurses, educational psychologists and the voluntary sector;
- support children and young people with mild to moderate mental health issues;
- help children and young people with more severe needs to access the right support, and provide a link to specialist NHS services.
Health secretary Matt Hancock said: ‘Children and young people with mental illness should receive the same level of support as those with physical illness.
‘Made possible by the extra £20.5bn we are investing in the NHS, today’s announcement will see the health and education systems come together so our children can access the help they need at school, and takes us a step closer to achieving our goal of parity between mental and physical health.’
The news comes as the Government has previously pledged to expand places on children and adolescent mental health support services (CAMHS) programmes by 70,000 – although the National Audit Office warned two months ago that this would cater for only ‘about one third’ of young people needing NHS treatment.
Earlier this year, the Government introduced four-week waiting times for children and young people accessing mental health support earlier this year.
Last month, a study found that six times the number of young people and children now self-report mental illness compared with 20 years ago.