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Further Education: Mental Health Services

Question for Department for Education

UIN 184516, tabled on 20 April 2021

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what additional support he is providing colleges of further education to support the mental health of their students.

Answered on

26 April 2021

Further Education providers (FE) deliver mental health support to their students in their wrap around, pastoral offer. This includes a number of initiatives supported by the department.

For example, we set up the ‘Wellbeing for Education Return’, an £8 million scheme funding expert advisers and training in every local authority area to support wellbeing recovery as children and young people returned to school and FE from September 2020.

Some of the colleges funded through the £5.4 million College Collaboration Fund are developing new ways to support student and staff mental health and wellbeing, including the ‘Let’s Chat’ programme developed by Weston College. Once developed, these resources will be available to all further education providers online. Details of the College Collaboration Fund are available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/college-collaboration-fund-ccf-projects/resources-college-collaboration-fund-ccf.

More recently we have announced a £79 million boost to children and young people’s mental health support, including through Mental Health Support Teams. The support teams – which provide early intervention on mental health and emotional wellbeing issues in schools and colleges – will grow from the 59 set up by last March to around 400 by April 2023, supporting nearly 3 million children and young people. This increase means that millions of children and young people will have access to significantly expanded mental health services.

We also know that some FE providers are creating their own innovative programmes to support student and staff mental health. The Sheffield College have rolled out their Uniheads mental health platform, which helps students develop good mental health knowledge and skills, build mental fitness, and address poor mental health.

The department has convened a Mental Health in Education Action Group, which will look specifically at how we support young people with their wellbeing as they return to school, college, and university after this difficult year. On 3 February 2021, my right hon. Friend, the Prime Minister, appointed Dr. Alex George as a Youth Mental Health Ambassador to advise the government and raise the profile of mental health education and wellbeing in schools, colleges, and universities.

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