Kate's Mentally Healthy Schools Initiative Expands
The Duchess of Cambridge's Mentally Healthy Schools project is set to offer support to Secondary Schools and Further Educational Colleges in March.
FEBRUARY 24th, 2021
he Duchess of Cambridge’s ‘Mentally Healthy School (MHS)’ initiative is expanding just in time for when students return to school in England next month. The valuable resource, run by both the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families and the Duchess’s mental health brainchild Heads Together, will expand the service to offer support and resources to secondary school students and further education colleges. The resource-based website already provides vital support to primary schools and the Early Years sector.
The expansion will go live in March – a move designed in response to the announcement that all school students in England will return to the classroom on March 8th, after the nationwide lockdown forced the majority of them to be home-schooled.
Last year, MHS announced that its resources would be accessible to all primary schools across the UK, providing information and support to address the specific curricula in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales for the first time.
The renewed expansion follows consultation with teachers, mental health organisations and stakeholders across the UK and is specifically designed to provide relevant support for children and young adults of all ages.
The initiative was initially established by the Duchess of Cambridge alongside the Anna Freud Centre, Young Minds, Place2Be and The Royal Foundation as a legacy project of the Heads Together campaign. Last April (2020), the Anna Freud Centre took full ownership of the development and delivery of the MHS website, with a continued and consistent partnership with the Duchess of Cambridge’s Early Years work.
Since its establishment, the resource website has become a global success story. Over half a million people have utilised the site, which has been used in almost every country in the world. With over 600 resources for primary schools already and 200 organisations helping to promote children’s mental health in school, the upcoming expansion looks only to build upon an already determined legacy.
Last year, Jaime Smith, Director of the Mental Health and Wellbeing in Schools Programme at the Anna Freud Centre described the importance of MHS, saying: ““We are delighted to build on Mentally Healthy Schools’ great success by extending its guidance and resources for Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. The expansion of Mentally Healthy Schools will ensure that it is even more useful and accessible for school staff and schools across the UK.
“It is a great opportunity for us to help meet the growing demand on schools and support them to promote mental health across the UK.”
There is also relief amongst local secondary schools surrounding the new expansion. Teacher, Lisa Holt – who works at Temple Moor High School in Leeds – described the inclusion of secondary schools and colleges as a “lifeline after a devastating time due to the lockdown.”
“We’ve seen the mental health of teenagers and young adults take a hammering over the lockdown and wider pandemic,” she said. “But there has also been an impact on teacher’s mental health too, so to have the MHS expand into our field of work will provide much needed confidence and support for all involved.”
It is expected that the Duchess of Cambridge will assist in the launching of the new expansion of the MHS website with a source stating: “The Duchess’ passion and commitment for supporting children’s mental health is long known. Mentally Healthy Schools is a project of which she is deeply proud of and understands how important and welcomed this expansion will be for students, parents and teachers alike.”
Earler this month, Kate supported Children’s Mental Health Week 2021 – an annual week run by charity Place2Be, celebrating and promoting the importance of children’s mental health and wellbeing.
The Duchess admitted to being "exhausted" by home schooling her three children, Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis. She also joked how they hated her attempts at cutting their hair.
Kate also spoke with a group of parents whose children attend Roe Green Primary School, and who were also being homeschooled, to highlight the crucial need for parents and carers to look after their own mental wellbeing, and the impact that this has on the children in their care.
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