Mental health programme for schools and NHS

Education Secretary Damian Hinds has outlined the next steps in bringing together services for young people in need of mental health support.

The national roll out of a £9.3 million training scheme will mean that pupils struggling with mental health can benefit from more joined up care and support across schools, colleges and specialist NHS services.

As part of the rollout, every school, college and alternative provision will be offered training through a series of workshops as part of the Link Programme, with the most appropriate member of staff from each put forward to take part alongside mental health specialists. This is designed to improve partnerships with professional NHS mental health services and improve referrals to specialist help when needed.

The four-year scheme builds on 1,500 schools and colleges that have already taken up this training during the pilot stage of the programme, launched in 2015. Starting in September, the training will be rolled out to schools and colleges in phases over four years, being offered to up to 22,000 schools and colleges, including alternative provision settings.

Hinds said: “School and college should be a place where young people feel valued, supported and listened to – and I know that this is the case for so many thanks to the dedication of their teachers and support staff. But there are limits to what can be asked or expected of teachers - they are not, and should not, be mental health professionals.

“That’s why this new training is important, by bringing school and college staff into the same room as NHS professionals and encouraging them to work together, sharing their expertise and making sure they have the information they need so that more pupils get the right help at the right time. This builds on the significant measures we’ve already put in place to improve children’s well-being, including our new mandatory health education curriculum and the mental health first aid training being offered to schools and colleges.”

Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said: “We want to give our children and young people the best possible start in life, and providing them with mental health and wellbeing support is a vital component. I’m delighted this programme will bring our health and education systems even closer together, building on the progress of our existing trailblazer sites and using the expertise of our NHS to ensure children have quicker access to mental health support when they need it.”

The government says that one in nine young people aged five to 15 had a diagnosable mental health condition in 2017, with teenagers with a mental health disorder more than twice as likely to have a mental disorder in adulthood.

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