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Children and young people to benefit from school and college-based mental health support

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More mental health and wellbeing support will be available in schools and colleges across the country to help young people recover from the psychological challenges of the pandemic, it has been revealed.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said more than £17 million will be invested to ensure every student has access to the mental health services they need.

The announcement – which comes during Mental Health Awareness Week – reveals that up to 7,800 schools and colleges in England will be offered new funding to train a senior mental health lead from their staff over the next academic year.

Further funding will also be made available under the Wellbeing for Education Recovery programme, which provides free training, support and resources for staff dealing with children and young people experiencing mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety.

It comes after a recent study found that children experienced greater levels of psychological distress during the third national lockdown.

The research, published by Oxford University, shows that primary school children aged between four and 10 exhibited greater behavioural, emotional, and attentional difficulties compared to previous months, while children between the age of 11 and 17 reported more symptoms of unhappiness and worry.

Commenting on the measures, Mr Williamson said: “I know how difficult the pandemic has been for many children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing, and the next few months will be crucial in supporting their recovery.

“That’s why we’re providing new funding to make experts available for support, advice and early intervention or specialist help, so every young person knows who and where to turn to as we build back better after the pandemic.”

Hosted by the Mental Health Foundation, Mental Health Awareness Week aims to raise awareness of mental health and the support available to those struggling with issues such as anxiety, low mood, self-harm and suicide.

The latest figures suggest that around one in four people in the UK experience a mental health problem each year, with the most common illnesses being anxiety and depression.