Press release: New action plan to tackle mental health stigma in schools

One in 10 children has a diagnosable mental health disorder – around 3 children in every classroom. The new measures announced today (25 March 2015) by the Secretary of State for Education Nicky Morgan will help ensure pupils who may be suffering in silence have the support and knowledge they need to keep themselves healthy and safe, while helping their classmates to develop an understanding of the problems they’re facing.

Unveiling a step-change in the way children and young people with mental health problems are to be supported both inside and outside the classroom, Nicky Morgan announced there will be:

  • brand new guidance for schools, produced in conjunction with the PSHE Association, which will help schools provide age-appropriate teaching on mental health problems from anxiety and depression to eating disorders and self-harm
  • a new visionary blueprint for schools on counselling services, developed in conjunction with children and young people, which provides headteachers with practical advice on how to deliver top-quality school-based counselling services that meet the needs of those it intends to support
  • a multi-million-pound funding injection for voluntary organisations to boost support on offer for young people struggling with mental health – a new funding commitment worth £4.9 million – through the government’s voluntary and community sector funding programme also announced today

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan, said:

As a mum myself, I know growing up today is no easy task. Young people are under more pressure than ever before in ways that are unimaginable to my generation. This is driven home to me every week when I visit schools across the country and talk to pupils about the issues affecting them – and mental health comes up time and time again.

We send our children to school to learn life lessons both inside and outside the classroom. The new guidance published today will give teachers the confidence to teach mental wellbeing sensitively and effectively, while the lessons plans will give them the material needed to inspire them.

There must be no trade-off between learning about mental health and academic success. By improving teaching on this subject we will help young people make sense of mental health issues and teach them how to keep themselves and others healthy.

Childcare and Education Minister Sam Gyimah said:

Children’s lives can be disrupted by poor mental health, from stress and anxiety about exams to incredibly serious and debilitating long-term conditions. It can also be hard to help these young people access the right support they need to get better.

The new guidance and lesson plans will help make sure that every single school in the country is a place where mental health needs are identified and where appropriate support is provided sympathetically and without stigma.

The new guidance will also be matched by detailed lesson plans – to be published in time for the new school year – with tangible and real-life examples of how these important matters should be taught to children and young people.

The new £4.9 million funding forms part of the government’s voluntary and community sector funding stream – a £25 million pot of money designed to bolster the work of organisations that make a difference to children and their families. This is the first year that the programme has placed a specific focus on mental health projects.

Successful bids include:

  • £400,000 for mental health charity Mind to provide pupils worried about their mental health with a confidential route to learn more about and seek support
  • £564,000 to the Royal College of Paediatrics to expand MindEd, the online service that helps parents to understand children and young people’s mental health issues
  • £440,000 to provide specialist intervention for young people in schools, supporting prevention and ensuring problems are tackled before they escalate

Notes to Editors

The government is wholeheartedly committed to improving the quality of mental health provision for young people and tackling what can far too often be a hidden problem. A number of significant steps have already been taken to help schools develop character and identify issues, including:

  • a £5 million innovation fund to help schools deliver activities that instil character and resilience in children, such as debating clubs and sports coaching
  • behaviour and mental health guidance issued to all schools in June to help teachers spot the signs of underlying mental health problems – stopping children being wrongly labelled as troublemakers and making sure they get the right support instead
  • a brand new blueprint for improving mental health and wellbeing support for children and young people over the next 5 years, Future in Mind, including tailored support for families and easier access to care, which was published on 17 March. The proposals include £1.5 million from DfE to pilot a new training scheme for creating designated points of contact in Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services and in schools
  • guidance on teaching about mental health, which is being published by the PSHE Association today. Supported by DfE, the association will be publishing lesson plans covering key stage 1 to key stage 4 next term for first use in schools by September 2015. The guidance and lesson plans are not statutory – it will be for schools to decide how to use and incorporate them within their existing curriculum

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