I share your concern about the impact the coronavirus outbreak will have had on children and young people's mental health. In particular, being separated from their peers for such a long period of time poses a real risk to young people's mental health, as well as hampering their social development.
As such I am very pleased that schools and colleges have reopened. Recognising that some children and staff will need support as they make the return to education, it is very welcome that action is being taken to improve mental health support, with the Wellbeing for Education Return programme launching to improve the wellbeing of pupils and staff in schools and colleges. The £8 million programme will support staff working in schools and colleges to respond to the additional pressures some children and young people may be feeling as a direct result of the pandemic, as well as to any emotional response their staff may still be experiencing from bereavement, stress, trauma or anxiety over the past months. The programme has been created with input from heath partners, mental health experts, local authorities, and schools and colleges.
The Department is also inviting educational psychologists to express an interest through their local authorities in providing temporary support for children and young people returning to educational settings in September 2020. This action comes on top of the existing commitment to invest at least £2.3 billion of extra funding a year into mental health services by 2023-24 through the NHS Long Term Plan. This funding underpins the aim for an additional 345,000 children and young people to be able to access support through National Health Service-funded services or school- and college-based mental health support teams.
A series of online resources were published by the Department for Education in June, designed by health and education experts for schools and colleges to boost mental health support for staff and pupils. In partnership with various charities, videos, webinars and teaching materials were designed to help foster conversations about mental health and reassure many young people who are worried about the impact of the virus on their lives. They also focus on helping hundreds of schools and colleges to support their pupils to build relationships, boost resilience, and continue to tackle bullying both in person and online.
I welcome the action outlined above, and I agree with you that it is vital that mental health support is properly funded. As such I will be pressing ministerial colleagues to ensure these services are considered in this year's Spending Review