Hundreds of children and young people are to take part in trials testing a range of ‘innovative techniques’ designed to support good mental health in schools, the education secretary has announced.
To mark Children’s Mental Health Week, Damian Hinds has said 370 schools in England will trial mindfulness exercises, relaxation techniques and breathing exercises to help pupils better regulate their emotions.
The study will run until 2021 and aims to give schools new evidence about what works best for their students’ mental health and wellbeing.
‘As a society, we are much more open about our mental health than ever before, but the modern world has brought new pressures for children, while potentially making others worse,’ said Mr Hinds.
‘Schools and teachers don’t have all the answers, nor could they, but we know they can play a special role which is why we have launched one of the biggest mental health trials in schools.
‘These trials are key to improving our understanding of how practical, simple advice can help young people cope with the pressures they face.’
Mr Hinds also confirmed the nine areas across the country that will trial new high-quality mental health assessments for young people entering care, which will be run by the Anna Freud Centre.
Dr Jessica Deighton from the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families commented: ‘We know schools have a strong commitment to supporting children’s mental health and wellbeing but have had little clear guidance about the best ways to approach this.
‘We want children and young people, parents and teachers to be confident that mental health in schools has an absolutely robust evidence base.
‘This world leading research which, we at the Anna Freud Centre are proud to be leading, will provide that and has the potential to transform mental health promotion in schools across England.
‘We also need to better identify the mental health needs of the most vulnerable children in society, particularly children in the care system, and an improved mental health framework will greatly help.’