Thank you for contacting me about children and young people's mental health.
I share your concern about the impact the coronavirus outbreak will have had on children and young people's mental health. In particular, being separated from their peers for such a long period of time poses a real risk to young people's mental health, as well as hampering their social development.
As such I am very pleased that schools and colleges reopened at the start of the academic year. It is welcome too that schools have remained open during the autumn lockdown.
Recognising that some children and staff will need support as they make the return to education, it is very welcome that action is being taken to improve mental health support, with the Wellbeing for Education Return programme launching to improve the wellbeing of pupils and staff in schools and colleges. The £8 million programme will support staff working in schools and colleges to respond to the additional pressures some children and young people may be feeling as a direct result of the pandemic, as well as to any emotional response their staff may still be experiencing from bereavement, stress, trauma or anxiety over the past months. The programme has been created with input from heath partners, mental health experts, local authorities, and schools and colleges.
The Department is also inviting educational psychologists to express an interest through their local authorities in providing temporary support for children and young people returning to educational settings.
This action comes on top of the existing commitment to invest at least £2.3 billion of extra funding a year into mental health services by 2023-24 through the NHS Long Term Plan. This funding underpins the aim for an additional 345,000 children and young people to be able to access support through National Health Service-funded services or school- and college-based mental health support teams.
A series of online resources were published by the Department for Education in June, designed by health and education experts for schools and colleges to boost mental health support for staff and pupils. In partnership with various charities, videos, webinars and teaching materials were designed to help foster conversations about mental health and reassure many young people who are worried about the impact of the virus on their lives. They also focus on helping hundreds of schools and colleges to support their pupils to build relationships, boost resilience, and continue to tackle bullying both in person and online.
As well as thinking about the children or young people in your care, it is important to take care of your own mental health. It is welcome that guidance has been published on how you can look after your own mental health and wellbeing during the COVID-19 outbreak, which can be accessed here - https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-for-the-pu…
You can also visit Every Mind Matters for clear advice and actions to take care of your mental health and wellbeing - https://www.nhs.uk/oneyou/every-mind-matters/
Further, MindEd for families is a free online educational resource on children and young people’s mental health for all adults, which can support parents and carers through these exceptional circumstances. You can access this here - https://mindedforfamilies.org.uk/
I welcome the action outlined above, and I agree with you that is is vital mental health support is properly funded. As such I will be pressing ministerial colleagues to ensure these services are considered in this year's Spending Review.