A £5million fund to help educational settings support the mental health and wellbeing of children and young people has been launched…

Education Minister Peter Weir set out details of the funding during a visit to St Columbanus College in Bangor.

The Minister said: “There have been numerous studies carried out across the UK about the negative impact of Covid-19 on young people’s mental health and wellbeing.

“My priority has always been to ensure children return to school to continue their learning. I fully recognise that any return must be done safely and with as much support as possible to help Principals, staff and young people.

“Wellbeing was identified as one of the key areas of the Education Restart Programme. A project was established to ensure educational settings have the information, resources and support they need to help them provide a culture of positive emotional health and wellbeing for children and young people.”

Guidance will be provided to educational settings as to how best they might use the funding.

Concluding the Minister said: “This is a significant investment which I know will be of benefit to pupils and staff alike. It can be used to provide emotional support, nurture, sporting and fun activities and after school clubs for young people. For staff, the funding can be used to support mindfulness, stress busting and other activities. In addition, educational settings will be able to work with other organisations or improve their physical environments.

“Children and young people have missed so much this year already, it is essential that they, and indeed our staff, are supported and helped in the challenging months ahead.”

In a survey in carried out by this magazine in September, to over 1,000 parents and guardians across NI, 41 per cent of respondents said that they had concerns about the effect of lockdown on children’s mental health and wellbeing and almost three quarters (74%) said that if their child’s school offered additional mental health or wellbeing classes they would like them to attend. Sixty per cent of parents also said they would like to see more focus from schools on mental health and wellbeing than on missed schoolwork.

Nadia Duncan

Author: Nadia Duncan

Editor

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