Coronavirus: Mental health support for students and staff

Written by: Pete Henshaw | Published:
Image: Adobe Stock

A number of mental health, wellbeing and anti-bullying charities have been given government funding to support school staff and students as the coronavirus lockdown begins to ease.

Department for Education (DfE) grants worth around £750,000 have been given to three major charities to help support work in schools focusing on building relationships, resilience and anti-bullying.

Meanwhile, a £95,000 pilot project led by the staff wellbeing charity Education Support is to support the mental health of around 250 school leaders via online peer-support and telephone supervision from experts.

The grants come as the DfE publishes the first of 14 online training modules to help teachers deliver aspects of the new statutory relationships, sex and health education curriculum, which comes into force in September.

The curriculum includes a strong focus on mental health, making its introduction particularly timely given the expected impact of the coronavirus lockdown on young people’s wellbeing.

The first module focuses on the physical health and mental wellbeing section of the new curriculum. The materials will help school staff to develop their confidence in talking with young people about mental wellbeing in class.

Elsewhere, the £750,000 grant has been split between three charities – the Diana Award, the Anti-Bullying Alliance and the Anne Frank Trust.

The Diana Award is a charity that runs anti-bullying programmes and mentoring schemes for young people; the Anti-Bullying Alliance offers a range of anti-bullying resources, CPD and support for schools and runs the annual Anti-Bullying Week; the Anne Frank Trust uses Anne Frank’s life and diary to help young people today to challenge prejudice and discrimination.

And the grant to Education Support will respond specifically to the mental health needs of school leaders who are leading their communities through the coronavirus crisis.

Sinéad McBrearty, the charity’s CEO, said: “Education Support is pleased to have the opportunity to pilot remote services for school leaders. Early testing has shown that online peer support and telephone supervision can help school leaders find ways to process the impact of work-related stress. We hope that the timing of this work will help school leaders in the short term, and inform best practice post-pandemic.”

Elsewhere, the DfE is also working with mental health charity MindEd with the intention of sharing examples of mental health good practices with schools before the end of the summer term.

Further mental health resources have already been made available from other wellbeing charities, including the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families and Place2Be.

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