A commitment to train secondary teachers to identify and deal with mental health problems in pupils will be funded by the government at a rate of just £67 per head.
Funding totalling £200,000 has been allocated by the prime minister Theresa May for the first round of mental health “first aid” training, which the government originally claimed would reach 3,000 staff “covering every secondary school in England” over the next three years.
However, the government has now admitted it made a mistake in its original press release on the funding, and confirmed the £200,000 will pay to train just 1,000 teachers in the first year of the scheme.
Mental Health First Aid, the charity set to deliver the training, says it costs at least £117.25 per head based on a cost of £1,876 per 16-person training session, and that it expects to receive additional money after the first year of the programme.
Many teachers have said that they would appreciate more training
Justine Greening, the education secretary, claims the programme will give teachers “more confidence in tackling mental health issues.”
The government has also re-affirmed its commitment to extending the training to all primary schools by the end of the parliament, but has not said whether further funding will be made available.
The training aims to help teachers identify mental health problems in pupils.
They will receive “practical advice” on how to deal with issues like depression and anxiety, suicide and psychosis, self-harm, and eating disorders.
Teachers involved in the programme will also be invited to become a “youth mental health first aid champion”, and asked to help to share their knowledge and understanding of mental health “across the school and wider community”, the government says.
The government also has plans to develop a single point of contact for mental health in schools in order to streamline the way they interact with child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS).
Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, says the funding is the result of calls from teachers for better training.
“Teachers already provide outstanding pastoral care and support for their pupils, but many have said that they would appreciate more training on how to understand and respond to mental health issues,” Hunt said.
“We know that identifying symptoms of mental illness early can help young people on the road to recovery. This training will mean more children receive the timely and sensitive support they need to stay well.”