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Mental Health and Wellbeing: Support in Schools

Volume 656: debated on Monday 11 March 2019

8. What recent assessment his Department has made of the adequacy of support in schools for children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing. (909683)

We conducted a national survey of mental health provision in schools that showed that most take action to support their pupils’ mental health. Schools need specialist support, so under the NHS long-term plan we are introducing mental health support teams as part of a major investment in children’s mental health.

During my annual community consultation, I met students from secondary schools right across my constituency. In every school, they raised the difficulty in accessing mental health services as a top priority. The Minister said that he is encouraging schools to offer counselling. Schools want to do that, but the funding crisis is preventing them because they do not have the resources. Next Tuesday, I am hosting a delegation of headteachers from every Sheffield constituency. Will he meet them to discuss this issue?

I would happily discuss the issue. I am very proud to share with this House the fact that the funding that we are increasing to £2.3 billion a year by 2023-24 would mean that funding for children’s and young people’s mental health services will grow faster than overall NHS funding, but also, more importantly, faster than total mental health spending overall.

Saxon Hill Academy in Lichfield, like many other schools that look after severely disabled children, has a programme of sleepovers for the children. That benefits the children, and it is great for the parents because it gives them respite, but the school is now having to discontinue it because of local funding issues. Is there anything the Government can do centrally to help Saxon Hill and similar schools?

Saxon Hill does a tremendous job, and respite is incredibly important. Part of the reason we have increased the funding, with £250 million over the next two years, is that we are very much cognisant of the fact that there are funding pressures on local authorities’ higher needs budgets.

The online game “Doki Doki Literature Club!”, which is available as a free download, promotes self-harm and has been linked to the suicides of several young people. What steps are being taken within schools to raise awareness of such dangers? What steps are being taken with the Minister’s colleagues in the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to tighten the regulations that currently allow children and young people to download such harmful games?

I thank the hon. Lady for her question. The relationships curriculum addresses these online harms directly. We also have the online harms White Paper that is to be issued imminently.