The UK government is making £200,000 available for “mental health first aid” training in secondary schools, according to a statement released by the prime minister’s office. The teachers who will receive training under this new programme “will receive practical advice on how to deal with issues such as depression and anxiety, suicide and psychosis, self-harm, and eating disorders”.
Mental health problems affect about one in ten young people in the UK. Schools have been heavily criticised for failing to recognise and deal with mental health issues, so, on first glance, the new initiative seems sound. But is it sound?
The government has commissioned a company called MFA England to deliver mental health first aid training to 1,000 secondary school teachers in the first year of a three-year programme. This works out at just £200 per member of staff. This may not be a enough to cover the costs of the two-day course, as costs – according to MFA England’s website – may vary depending on the location and instructor, with some charging up to £300 per person for the course.