10/05/21 – Government announces “Mental Health Recovery Money” for Schools and Colleges


10th May 2021

In Mental Health Awareness Week, the Government has boosted spending on mental health services for chidlren and young people in schools and colleges.

Today, Secretary of State for Education, Gavin Williamson has announced a further £17 million in funding for pupils and students to help them recover from the devastating and ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The package has been publicised as part of the Government’s strategy to ‘build back better’ and includes:

  • £9.5 million to train a ‘senior Mental Health Lead’ from existing staff in up to 7,800 schools and colleges. It is envisaged to offer this training to all schools and  colleges by 2025
  • A £7 million ‘Wellbeing for Education Recovery’ programme providing free, expert training, support and resources for staff dealing with children and young people  experiencing additional problems arising from the  pandemic including trauma, anxiety or grief. The money is issued as part of the DfE’s ‘Wellbeing for Education Return’ implemented by 90% of councils since summer 2020
  • The Department of Education will also fund a ‘Link’ programme; designed to improve partnerships between health and education leaders in local areas, raise awareness of mental health concerns and improve referrals to specialist help when needed.
  • An Education Staff Wellbeing Charter will be launched this week with a cross-sector commitment to protect and promote the wellbeing of all staff working in schools and colleges. The Department has appointed ‘Timewise’ – the national flexible work training provider to train staff to implement flexible working where possible. Eight flexible working ambassador schools have been appointed to champion best practice and work with other schools locally
  • A Suicide Safer Universities framework will be established to ‘promote good practice in the sector, ensuring that university students are supported during their time at university

This has shown that campaigning pressure from APPG members and others has worked and that the Government has listened – to some extent! – but there is still so much more to do.

Firstly, we remain disappointed that a Child Mental Health Covid Recovery Strategy was not announced in the House of Commons via a Statement from the Prime Minister or a Secretary of State and that it has never been the focus of a National Press Conference, involving the Children’s Commissioner.

Secondly, there is no sense that the post of Mental Health Lead will be subject to open and external application from a wide number of well-qualified candidates. In-house training is good, but this is a specialist role in its own right and needs to be advertised and remunerated as such.

Also, England, unlike the other devolved Home Nations, still does not have either a properly trained and accredited counsellor or play therapist in everyschool and no plans have been announced to reverse that situation.

Finally, above all, none of the new measures are statutory. As always, we will keep you posted on developments.

APPG on a Fit and Healthy Childhood.

One comment

  1. Surely having trained creative counsellors and play therapists in schools would be essential? It takes time to train staff from schools in the new mental health roles, so why not use the experienced skilled professionals that already exist? (Those who are ready and willing to help!) Children need help now, not sometime in the future! Lets hope the Government delivers on it’s suggestions and isn’t just paying lip service.

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