ADDRESSING any mental health concerns in children brought on by coronavirus will be vital for return to successful academic learning.

At the daily Welsh Government press conference for coronavirus updates, education minister Kirsty Williams MS spoke about the potential impact that the pandemic has brought for the mental wellbeing and health of young learners right across Wales.

The minister said: “Previously, we have announced a doubling of resources to support our whole school approach to mental health and wellbeing and we’ll be investing £5 million to support schools and children.

“Recognising, as we do, that his has been a very stressful time for children and young people and we need to make sure we can address those concerns when they get back into the classroom.

“We know that good mental health and wellbeing is a prerequisite to successful academic learning.”

Ms Williams added to her statement that she launched consultation for a whole school framework to support mental health and wellbeing on July 8.

Earlier this year, in May, the education minister jointly announced the funding boost totalling £5 million for mental health alongside the Welsh health and social services minister Vaughan Gething.

School counselling services currently provide direct support to young people from the age of 11, or Year 6, up to the age of 18 but the recently announced funding will extend support to provide mental and emotional support to children younger than Year 6.

Around 11,500 young people each year access lower level mental health support, outside specialist NHS provision, in schools and community counselling services.

£450,000 will also go towards supporting mental health and well-being of the school workforce.

The Welsh Government is working with partners to develop further plans on how that support will be delivered.

Ms Williams previously said on the matter that traditional face-to-face counselling is not necessarily appropriate for younger children, who may lack the maturity to explain and understand the issues which concern them.

In a previous statement about the funding, the education minister said: “Specialist therapies, such as those based on play and working with the wider family are much more effective and we will work with providers to develop these services as part of our wider whole school approach.”

Help and support is available right now if you need it:

  • YoungMinds has information on child and adolescent mental health. They also have services for parents and professionals. Text the YoungMinds Crisis Messenger at 85258 for free 24/7 support across the UK if you are experiencing a mental health crisis.
  • If you are under 19, you can also call 0800 1111 to talk to Childline. The number will not appear on your phone bill.
  • More helplines and support can be found on the NHS website here .