More counselling and emotional support for schoolchildren due to pandemic

The Welsh Government has pledged £9.4 million in support of youth services to mark Children's Mental Health Week in Wales.

It says the funding will go towards mental health services across the country and recognises the effect being away from school and regular support networks has had on young people during the pandemic.

In a coronavirus press briefing on Friday, the Minister for Mental Health and Wellbeing said the pandemic and lockdown restrictions has had a 'massive impact' on everyone, 'but particularly on children and young people.'

Eluned Morgan MS said: "We know that young people’s normal routines have been disrupted; they’ve  been in and out of school throughout the year and separated from friends and support networks.

"We know that up to 80% of mental health issues start in childhood and adolescence so early access to support can make the world of difference and stop these developing into potentially lifelong problems.

"Today, we’re going a step further and investing another £9.4 million to support children and young people struggling with the impact of the pandemic.

"£4 million of this will improve early access to emotional and mental health wellbeing support in schools, as part of our Whole Systems Approach.

"There will be more counselling and emotional support available in school for children."

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The Welsh Government says with research showing mental health issues predominantly start when people are children or young people, it has made £4 million available to improve access to emotional and mental health well-being support in schools as part of the Whole Systems Approach.

It also says £5.4 million of funding will go towards CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services) to support young people who need more intensive support, both in the community and in specialist mental health in-patient services.

The Welsh Government says there will also be more counselling and emotional support for school children available, contributing towards their overall health, well-being, emotional health and resilience.

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Education Minister Kirsty Williams said: "Ensuring our children have access to effective mental health support is essential if they are to grow up to be healthy and confident individuals.

"As part of our whole school approach, we are working together both inside the school and those outside to make sure every child and young person knows where to go for emotional help and feels well supported.

"This £4 million will make a significant difference to this programme and will improve the resources and services available to children and young people in these challenging times."

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Schools have remained closed in Wales since a level 4 national lockdown was announced before Christmas.

On Friday 29 January, First Minister Mark Drakeford said Wales will hope to "take advantage" of its lower rate of coronavirus transmissions to get pupils back into schools ahead of other UK nations.

The Welsh Labour leader said a phased return to the classroom, starting with primary school children, could begin "straight after half-term" if Covid cases continue to fall.

Correspondent Dean Thomas-Welch talks lockdown, home-schooling and mental health with daughter Ember:

  • Analysis by ITV Wales Reporter Megan Boot:

For children and young people the coronavirus crisis has had a profound impact - they've been in and out of school, and, like so many of us, separated from friends and family.

Unsurprisingly there's been an increase in the need for mental health support. 

So today's announcement must be seen in the context of trying to deliver more support, for more demand.

When I asked  Eluned Morgan, the minister responsible for mental health and wellbeing, how she would describe the provision for young people and children, she said "improving".

They hope this investment will help those who are struggling, by offering more access to counselling and support in the community or with specialist services.  

Support is there - whether online or face to face - but in her answer to my question today, a very telling few words from the Minister  - "if we find that the amounts of funding are not enough, then of course we will revisit that".  They know that around 80% of mental health issues start in childhood and adolescence, so getting this right is essential.