NHS mental health support for school children

More than a million children and young people will have access to mental health support at school, to help tackle anxiety, depression, and other common mental health issues.

With the NHS rapidly expanding services to help deal with the huge disruption caused by coronavirus and lockdown, approximately 400 mental health support teams will be up and running covering 3,000 schools in England, offering support to almost three million pupils, by 2023.

Experts in the teams will offer children one-to-one and group therapy sessions while helping to improve the whole school’s communities awareness of mental health through training sessions for parents and workshops for teachers.

The roll-out represents a dramatic acceleration of the programme announced in the NHS Long Term Plan, funded from £79 million to boost mental health support for children and young people in England, which is part of £500 million government pot for investment in mental health services.

Mental health problems among five to 16-year-olds in England have risen from one in 10 in 2017 to around one in six last summer. According to one study, more than one in four children has had trouble sleeping while one in 10 often or always felt lonely during the pandemic.

Sir Simon Stevens, chief executive of the NHS, said: “Coronavirus has taken its toll on us all, not least children who have been stuck at home unable to see their friends and without the routine of school life. So it’s an urgent necessity to expand services as we are doing, after what will have been for many a year of turmoil.

“Increasing investment in mental health services, particularly for children and young people, is a key part of the NHS Long Term Plan but we are now going even further and faster, because offering help and support early, before problems get worse, can sometimes prevent problems persisting into adulthood.”

Claire Murdoch, Mental Health Director for NHS England, said: “Children have had their normal routines turned upside down during the pandemic whether it be curbs on their social life, school or their hobbies, and so it is only right that the NHS accelerates its mental health support for young people.

“As children have returned to the classroom, dedicated NHS mental health support teams will be in place at 3,000 schools across the country ready to listen to any anxieties they may have and I would urge everyone whether you’re a teacher, parent or child to access this help before any issues escalate.”

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