1-7 February marks the seventh annual Children’s Mental Health Week, run by children’s mental health charity Place2Be, who provide counselling and mental health support and training in UK schools.
Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, which represents members in the majority of UK schools, said: “A focus on mental health and wellbeing for children and young people is more important this year than ever. School leaders are deeply concerned about the impact the Covid-19 pandemic and resulting lockdowns have had on their pupils. There is a significant challenge for schools moving forward to support children’s recovery and wellbeing and to repair any damage done to their mental health.”
Around five children in every classroom have a mental health need, and many more struggle with challenges from bullying to bereavement – potentially more this year than ever before.
Mr Whiteman continued: “Schools will of course being putting a huge amount of effort into ensuring that the wellbeing of all pupils is supported, but there will be children and young people for whom the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic has created more serious levels of concern. These pupils may need additional, more targeted support and they will likely need more specialist help from health or social care services.
“Unfortunately, these services were stretched even before the pandemic, having been as starved of funding as education over the last decade. Now is the time for government to invest in supporting children’s mental health. Schools cannot do it alone. Without all the resources and services that should be there to help operating efficiently and effectively together, the government risks failing children just as they most need help.”
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