My Lords, some children who have been out of school for such a long time will need extra support to help them reintegrate and perform well. Professionals believe that demands on children’s services, including child mental health services, will be huge and expanded. Will the Government provide extra resources for such services to support schools and children, and if so, how?
Baroness Massey of Darwen, House of Lords, 08/07/20
The guidance makes clear that mental health, well-being and adjusting children back into the school environment are important priorities. Mental health is key to that. In relationships, health and sex education, there is a particular module to assist teachers to teach about mental health, and £5 million has been dedicated to the mental health coronavirus fund, in addition to over 50 mental health support teams that are the beginning of rolling that out to a substantial proportion of our schools.
Response from Baroness Berridge, Under Secretary of State for Education, to Baroness Massey’s question 08/07/20
Our Campaign Manager, Helen Clark, writes:
On July 8th, Baroness Massey asked the Under Secretary of State for Education, Baroness Berridge if the Government would be providing schools with much-needed additional resources to fund provision for children’s mental health services on the return of children to school following their extended enforced absence because of lockdown. The Question and the Minister’s reply are printed above.
Barely a day now goes by without yet another horrific revelation about the damage that has been done to children’s mental health as a result of the lockdown. Many have experienced a worsening of their existing mental health problems because they and their families have had no access to former trusted sources of therapy and support. Other children will have developed problems for the first time as a direct result of lockdown and the experiences that they have had. We know that some of these experiences have been the witnessing of domestic abuse (in enforced confinement) or being the subject of it and unable to escape the abuser; being pursued by online perpetrators ; suffering in the absence of routines, missing family and friends and maybe coping with bereavement in addition to all the attendant psychological difficulties of isolation. For months, some children will have been unable to play outside at all and many have no access to a garden and live miles away from any green space.
Added to all of the above, some children are simply suffering untold stress because of fear of the pandemic itself . When will it end? Will life ever be anything like ‘normal’ again?
We are very grateful to Baroness Massey for raising this important issue – but the reply from the Minister is entirely inadequate.
Children who are suffering now will not be helped by their teachers swotting up about mental illness from a training app or module! What is wanted is a properly guaranteed and funded service within every school of trained therapeutic counsellors; accredited as fit and suitable to practice by their acceptance onto an Approved Government Register as recommended in our Charter Principles. The Minister’s reply is imprecise and will satisfy nobody.