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Mental Health Support in Schools

Volume 681: debated on Tuesday 6 October 2020

What recent discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Education on allocating additional resources for mental health support in schools. (907101)

We are working closely with the Department for Education to support children and young people’s mental health, and we remain committed to implementing the proposals in the children and young people’s mental health Green Paper putting mental health support teams in schools and colleges, otherwise known as trailblazer schemes.

Schoolchildren have had their education interrupted. They have been separated from their friends and face continual threats to their daily lives. The Government knew schools were to return. Why did they not take adequate steps to provide mental health support in schools for students and teachers?

I am afraid I have to say that, actually, the opposite is the case. We have just completed the wellbeing for education return “train the trainer” scheme. The trainers have been trained by the Anna Freud Centre and are ready to go out into schools across the country. It was always the position that schools should be open and the best place for children to receive help and support, for exactly the reasons that the hon. Member described: separation from their routine and their friends, and school being a place of safety.

Train the trainer has now completed. The Under-Secretary of State for Education, my hon. Friend the Member for Chelmsford (Vicky Ford), and I worked hard on that over the summer to ensure that the £8 million was there and the training was in place, ready to provide mental health and wellbeing support to children when they return to school. I am pleased to say that the last “train the trainer” scheme happened last week, and those involved are now ready to move into schools across the country.

It has been six months of uncertainty for our country’s children and their parents, with schooling cancelled, the exam results fiasco and now students trapped in uncertainty in their university accommodation. Despite the Education Secretary recognising that there was a serious impact on young people’s mental health, yet again it seems that the Government have no plan. Children and young people are being failed. When will the Minister finally address the pending mental health crisis in our schools, colleges and universities?

I just do not recognise the picture that the hon. Lady has presented. We are investing at least £2.3 billion in mental health support and mental health provision. That investment translates to 345,000 children and young people who will be able to access mental health support via NHS-funded health services and school-based mental health support teams. Spending on children and young people’s mental health services is growing faster than the overall spend on mental health, which itself is growing faster than the overall NHS budget. Children and young people’s mental health is our priority, and we are showing that by investing in it. The picture that she paints is, I am afraid, completely inaccurate.