MENTAL health support for children under 11 years old will begin in schools in Wales as part of a £3.75 million cash injection.

Funding anticipates a surge in demand for such support in the wake of coronavirus and restrictions imposed to contain it.

It will also target the mental wellbeing of teachers and other school staff, and comes at the start of Mental Health Awareness Week.

Currently, school counselling services provide direct support to 11-18 year-olds, but this will now be extended to younger children. Around 11,500 young people a year access lower level mental health support, outside specialist NHS provision, in schools and community counselling services.

Some £450,000 will go to support school workforce mental health and wellbeing, with plans being developed to provide this.


The £3.75m comes on top of £1.25m announced last month by education minister Kirsty Williams MS, for councils to deliver counselling services in schools.

“Coronavirus is inevitably causing additional anxiety for people of all ages, not least children and young people. We must therefore anticipate increased demand for mental health support among younger people,” said Ms Williams.

“By tackling problems early you can stop them escalating. Although serious mental health issues are less prevalent in younger children, we’re extending support so children under 11s can also receive emotional wellbeing support if they need it.

“We know traditional face-to-face counselling is not necessarily appropriate for younger children, who may lack the maturity to explain and understand the issues which concern them.

“Instead specialist therapies, such as those based on play and working with the wider family, are much more effective. We will work with providers to develop these services as part of a wider whole school approach.”

Health minister Vaughan Gething, said “necessary restrictions on young people’s lives due to coronavirus, including less time with their friends and other family members”, mean we must be prepared for an impact on children’s emotional wellbeing.

“So it’s important we continue to invest in mental health support for our young people during these very difficult times,” he said.