Thank you for contacting me about young people’s wellbeing.
It must be a matter of priority for all of us that we do everything in our power to ensure our children are happy and healthy. I know Ministers share this view and I am reassured that many steps are already being taken towards this goal.
While the coronavirus pandemic poses clear challenges for children and young people's mental health, it is encouraging that the second annual State of the Nation report found that children and young people aged five to 24 generally responded with resilience to changes in their lives between March and September 2020. Despite indications of challenges to their mental wellbeing they report stable levels of happiness and only slight reduction in satisfaction with their lives.
The report suggested that the return to school or college would play a vital role in improving the mental wellbeing of many pupils, by easing some of the main worries identified in the research: time off from education, being isolated from friends, fewer opportunities to be more physically active and also providing access to pastoral support. Schools being open during the autumn will no doubt have helped with all these concerns, and the same will be true when schools reopen again on 8 March.
It is said that the introduction of the new compulsory Relationships, Sex and Health Education curriculum will be another important step in improving our children’s overall wellbeing. The stated aim of the curriculum is to equip children early-on with the knowledge they need to make informed decisions about their wellbeing, health and relationships, as well as preparing them for adult life in a changing world.
Mental Health Support Teams will be rolled out to schools and colleges. These teams will employ new staff who are being recruited and trained specifically for the programme. The National Health Service is on track to deliver the roll-out of mental health support teams in schools and colleges across 20-25 per cent of areas in England by 2023/24.
Moreover, an £8 million training programme run by mental health experts was launched in the autumn to help improve how schools and colleges respond to the emotional impact of the coronavirus pandemic on both students and staff, by giving them the knowledge and access to resources they need to support children, young people, teachers and parents affected by the pandemic.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.
Craig Whittaker MP