Wales pledges £5m for mental health in schools

Welsh Minister for Education Kirsty Williams has announced £3.75 million of funding for mental health in schools that will include new support for children under the age of 11.

Alongside Minister for Health and Social Services, Vaughan Gething, Williams said that the funding will extend support to provide mental and emotional support to children younger than Year 6. School counselling services currently provide direct support to young people from the age of 11, or Year 6, up to the age of 18.

£450,000 will also go towards supporting mental health and well-being of the school workforce. The Welsh Government is working with partners to develop further plans on how that support will be delivered. This is in addition to £1.25 million announced by the Education Minister last month, for local authorities to deliver counselling services in schools, taking the total support to £5 million this financial year.

Williams said: “The coronavirus is inevitably causing additional anxiety for people of all ages, not least children and young people. We must therefore anticipate increased demand for mental health support among younger people. We know that by tackling problems early you can stop them escalating. Although serious mental health issues are less prevalent among younger children, we’re extending the support available so that children under 11 can also receive support with their emotional well-being, if they need it.

“We know traditional face-to-face counselling is not necessarily appropriate for younger children, who may lack the maturity to explain and understand the issues which concern them.  Instead specialist therapies, such as those based on play and working with the wider family are much more effective and we will work with providers to develop these services as part of our wider whole school approach.”