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 somewhat encouraging that the most recent 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 reported 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 lacking access to pastoral support. As such I was delighted that all students were able to return to educational settings for the 2021-22 academic year and that all remaining restrictions on educational settings have been lifted.
I am aware that as we continue to recover from the pandemic, children and young people's mental health is a priority for the Government. Last year, the Department for Education provided £8 million in funding for the Wellbeing for Education Return Scheme, and a further £7 million has now been provided to local authorities to provider further expert support as the programme continues. In March 2021, the Government also announced an additional £79 million over the 2021/22 financial year to accelerate the planned expansion of young people's mental health services, which will include 2,000 more children and young people getting access to the help they need.
I am also pleased that Mental Health Support Teams are being rolled out to schools and colleges. It is welcome that the number of these support teams is set to grow from 59 to 400 by April 2023, reaching nearly 3 million children in England. These teams will employ new staff who are being recruited and trained specifically for the programme.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.