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 confirmed.
Videos, webinars and teaching materials, produced in partnership with charities, will be made available to schools and colleges, with the aim of fostering conversations about mental health and reassuring young people who are worried about the impact of the virus on their lives.
The Department for Education has also 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 in partnership 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.
It adds to the support the Government has already put in place to help families and children during the pandemic, with more than £9 million being invested in mental health charities to help them expand and reach those most in need, and priority given to it within planning guides for a phased return to education.
A new training module for teachers will also be published 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.
Developed with clinical experts, the training module will help subject leads and teachers deliver the new curriculum effectively when it becomes compulsory from September, as well as improving their confidence in talking and teaching about mental wellbeing in class, especially as many measures to stop the spread of coronavirus remain in place and many people continue to experience restrictions in their daily lives.
While schools have some flexibility over how they introduce the new curriculum within the first year of compulsory teaching, the new module will help schools prepare ahead of time.
The Government’s announcement today builds on the partnership working already seen between schools, colleges and health services in local areas in response to the pandemic.
Children and Families Minister Vicky Ford said: “There has never been a more important time to speak about mental health and wellbeing – especially for thousands of children, young people and teachers who are adapting to education and different ways of living and learning in these unprecedented times.
“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 Dories said: “The coronavirus pandemic has shone a light on the importance of looking after our mental health. It is very normal during these uncertain and unusual times to be experiencing distress or anxiety, or be feeling low. What’s important is that you 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.
“Mental health must be a priority as we get start to get back to normality and I hope these brilliant new measures alongside our NHS services will help start new conversations and reassure children that it’s ok not to be ok, and that support is available.”