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Schools: Mental Health

Volume 498: debated on Thursday 29 October 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what strategies his Department has considered to raise awareness of mental health issues in schools. (296490)

As the key universal service for children, schools play an important role in the promotion of better emotional health and resilience and early intervention where mental health problems may arise. There are a number of programmes in schools that increase awareness of mental health issues for children and young people. These include the Healthy Schools Programme and Targeted Mental Health in Schools.

The Healthy Schools Programme requires schools to have policies and practices in place to support emotional health and wellbeing, including identifying children at risk of experiencing behavioural, emotional or social difficulties. Currently 99 per cent. of schools in England are working towards or have achieved Healthy School status.

The Targeted Mental Health in Schools (TaMHS) programme is developing models of mental health support in schools for those children, young people and their families who need it most. The project includes training for school staff to equip them with the knowledge and ability to identify problems early, to work with and support children and young people at risk of experiencing mental health problems and to refer them to appropriate mental health professionals, as necessary. It also provides mental health awareness and promotion for children, young people and families. Funded by £60 million between 2008 and 2011, the programme is currently operating in 80 local authorities. From September 2010 TaMHS will be operating in clusters of schools in all areas.

There are other school based programmes that also promote better emotional wellbeing. Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning (SEAL) is a comprehensive voluntary programme to develop the social and emotional skills of all pupils, while the new personal wellbeing programme of study within Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) education includes a specific focus on issues relating to emotional wellbeing and mental health.