Health Education England announces mental health pilot training scheme

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A new pilot commissioned by Health Education England will train thousands of staff to help them spot the signs that a child or young person might need support with their mental health.

The training will be available to around 10,000 staff across pilot sites in Southampton, Portsmouth, and Norfolk over an initial six-month period.  

If successful, the programme could then be rolled out nationally to other parts of the children’s workforce across England. 

Workers receiving training include those in education, early years and childcare, physical health, library services, sports clubs, crime prevention, youth and social services.

Staff will be trained in emotional health, which includes how to speak to children and young people about mental health concerns and what to say, offering support and signposting resources, and where to go for more specialist help.

The training will also cover how to recognise signs of anxiety, low self-esteem and loss of social confidence. The format will mirror the existing statutory safeguarding framework that the children’s workforce already completes. 

Staff will be trained in emotional health, which includes how to speak to children and young people about mental health concerns and what to say. Photograph: iStock

Delivered in partnership with the Anna Freud Centre, the National Children’s Bureau and the Charlie Waller Trust, training is currently being co-designed with children and their parents and staff members.

Debi Reilly, Senior Responsible Officer for Mental Health at Health Education England, said: “There is a clear gap in professional development for the children’s workforce, who currently receive no mandatory training in children and young people’s mental health.

“This pilot aims to improve consistency, so that all workers who come into contact with children receive the same basic training in emotional health, much as we skill everyone in how to safeguard children.”

Professor Peter Fonagy, Chief Executive of the Anna Freud Centre, said: “Mental health needs for children and young people are on the rise.

“We need to support all those people who work with them to talk more confidently about emotional health, offering help where they are the right person to do so, and drawing in more specialist help when it is needed.”

For more information, see HEE's website here 


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