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NHS offering mental health support to schoolchildren

Young boy sitting next to a window looking upset
Young boy sitting next to a window looking upset Image credit: centermh.org

Over 2.4 million children and young people can now access mental health support in their schools and colleges thanks to the NHS fast tracking services.

A total of 650,000 youngsters have been in contact with the service over the past twelve month which has seen a rise in new cases.

Before the pandemic 534,000 children and young people reached out for help with their mental health.

NHS mental health teams are operating in around 47,000 schools and colleges around the UK offering support to young people struggling with conditions such as anxiety and depression.

At present 287 professionals are on hand supporting pupils, an extra 104 teams will start training in 2022/23.

Claire Murdoch, head of mental health care in England, visited the staff and children at Richard Challoner School in Surrey.

She told Sky News:  "Children's lives have faced enormous disruption over the last two years which is why NHS staff and partners have worked flat out to fast track the roll out of hundreds of mental health teams in schools and offer support to millions of pupils, a year ahead of schedule.

"NHS mental health support teams are now in place in around 4,700 schools and colleges across the country ready to listen to any anxieties or issues children may have and I would urge everyone, whether you're a teacher, parent or child, to access this help before any issues escalate."

The aim is to support children from an early age before they develop severe mental health conditions as they continue to feel pressure by sources such as the growing popularity of social media.

A parent of a Year 10 student at Richard Chancellor School, who was supported by the initiative, said:  "We were so grateful for the timely support and the quality preventative input it provided.

"Our son was really struggling, and the regular support enabled him to learn simple and practical strategies and tactics to be able to improve his wellbeing and his mental health in both the immediate challenges he was facing at school and help him to have a better perspective for his future."

Minister for mental health, Gillian Keegan, said: "The last two years have been particularly challenging for children and young people so it's important they can access support as early as possible.

"Our investment is paying off - the £79 million we have provided has allowed the NHS to accelerate the rollout of Mental Health Support Teams and expanded community services so tens of thousands more children can get help."

Mental Health Awareness week runs between 9 and 15 May 2022, for more information visit the website.