THE Welsh Government has announced £1.25m to provide additional mental health support for children who may be experiencing increased stress or anxiety as a result of the international coronavirus outbreak.
The funding, announced by Education Minister Kirsty Williams, will be provided for school counselling services to deal with an anticipated increase in demand since the start of the pandemic.
The Welsh Government provides funding to local authorities to deliver counselling services in schools – the additional funding will allow an increase of staffing, following recruitment of counsellors over the last year.
New guidance and online resources for mental health are also being developed to help deal with additional issues created by the coronavirus.
The additional funding will be available in the financial year 2020-21.
Education Minister Kirsty Williams said: “We’ve always known than schools do far more than teach children – good mental and physical well-being are essential to good learning.
“We expect an increase in demand for mental health support, as children have concerns over the impact of the coronavirus on people’s health or on their education.
“With the necessary restrictions on how much time children can spend outdoors, in order to halt the spread of the virus, we must also be prepared for an impact on children’s emotional wellbeing.
“We’ve been investing in counselling services and mental health support over the past year and provided funding to local authorities to deliver counselling services in schools and recruited additional counsellors.
“We need to start addressing issues now, not store them up for after the lockdown.”
Sara Moseley, Director of Mind Cymru said: “Better support for the mental health of our children and young people is an absolute priority.
“We know that that the uncertainty and change heralded by the current situation is leaving a lot of young people isolated and anxious, so speed is of the essence.
“Schools counselling is an important element of what our children will need.
“When they get back to school, we need to make sure that this is combined with a curriculum that gives them the tools to have better psychological health and an approach that reaches every part of the school community.”