Education Minister, Peter Weir and Health Minister, Robin Swann have jointly launched the Children and Young People’s Emotional Health and Wellbeing in Education Framework.
An investment of £6.5million annually will be provided to support mental health and wellbeing within the education sector.
The Framework will be supported by a number of initiatives including:
REACH Programme which provides schools with support to promote good mental health;
Pilot of counselling service in primary schools;
the Text-a-Nurse service providing young people with a secure and confidential text messaging service to a school nurse; and
Wellbeing strategy for school staff to help them take action and invest in their mental and physical wellbeing.
Peter Weir said: “As Education Minister, I am very concerned about the impact of the pandemic on our children and young people. That is why I am providing £5m annually to deliver the Framework and ensure schools have the financial support they need to promote emotional health and wellbeing. This funding will provide early assistance for those children and young people who may be at risk or showing signs of needing further help.
“It recognises that staff need to be supported themselves if they are to be expected to support children and young people in their care.
“We began this journey to develop a Framework alongside colleagues from the Public Health Agency and I am pleased to be jointly launching this document with Minister Swann today. Only by working together can we provide the support needed for our children and young people and those who work with them.”
In implementing the Framework, £5m recurrent funding has been made available by the Education Minister to support mental health and wellbeing within the education sector, and the Health Minister has agreed to provide an additional £1.5m on a recurrent basis from 2021/22 onwards.
Minister Swann said: “Protecting and supporting the mental health of our young people is absolutely essential and a key priority for me as Health Minister. The Education Framework is hugely important and comes at a critical time given the impact of the pandemic on the lives of our children and young people.
“The framework aligns well with the draft Mental Health Strategy published for consultation in December, in particular our focus on early intervention and prevention, and ensuring people have access to the right support when they need it.
“Finally I would also like to acknowledge and thank all those who contributed to this vital work.”