In order to better understand the impact of the pandemic on the mental health and wellbeing of children, young people and education staff across England, a new action group comprised of health and education experts have gathered for the first time.
Featuring ministers, including Education Secretary Gavin Williamson, charities and Youth Ambassador Dr Alex George, the coalition will focus on improving mental health and wellbeing in school, college and university settings.
Among the issues of greatest concern, the group will look to address are the increase in eating disorders and self-harm among young people.
As part of their work, they will also look to strategise how best to help education staff manage their mental wellbeing.
In their first meeting, the coalition agreed to take forward more action across a range of areas, including boosting the support available to help children and young people move between schools and year groups, as well as looking at how schools and colleges can target funding and recovery support to ensure that support reaches pupils who need it the most.
Much of what the coalition discusses is also backed by the recent Government commitment of £79m to support expanded children and young people’s mental health services.
Within that expanded funding will be the increasing of the number of mental health support teams - who provide early intervention on mental health and emotional wellbeing issues in schools and colleges - from 59 through to around 400 by April 2023.
This will support nearly three million children and young people.
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “Getting young people back into schools and colleges has been a national priority, not just because of the significant benefits to their education but because of the benefit to their wellbeing as well.
“Across society the sacrifices we have all had to make to battle to pandemic has had an impact on wellbeing and mental health, and this is especially true for young people who have had to sacrifice so much over the last year.
“The important work of this Mental Health Action Group will build on the significant investment we have already put into mental health in education, through training for teachers, our new health education curriculum and expert teams in schools and colleges.
“Today’s meeting highlights the cross-government approach we are taking to make sure we continue to support staff and students.”
Children and Families Minister Vicky Ford said: “While the pandemic continues to affect so many people in our country, our commitment to improving mental health support for all remains firm, especially through early intervention and specialist care for the young people who need it most.”
“Mental health challenges affect so many of us on a daily basis. That’s why promoting wellbeing is at the heart of our recovery plans and why I’m proud to be jointly chairing this important new group.”