An extra £2.25million investment in Healthy Happy Minds in Northern Ireland has been announced – following our call for funding to allow the programme to be extended.

Education Minister Michelle McIlveen announced the funding, which will enable the counselling and therapeutic support programme for primary school pupils to continue in the next academic year. Funding is guaranteed until the end of 2022.

The funding was welcomed by Steve Mulligan, our Four Nations Lead.

Vulnerable young people

Steve said: “The programme has had a significant impact on some of the youngest and most vulnerable young children in Northern Ireland.

“This funding will provide that continuity of support, which is fantastic and really welcome.

“The programme strengthens Northern Ireland’s position as an example to the rest of the UK in providing therapeutic support for primary aged children.”

The funding follows a joint letter from our Chair Natalie Bailey and Caryl Sibbett, Deputy Chair of the British Association of Art Therapists, requesting funding to extend the programme.

They said it's "brought together a broad range of therapeutic interventions to provide much-needed support to primary aged children”.

Their letter added: “We would like to see some continuity of support for those pupils who are currently receiving support and for the programme to be in place while we continue to see the mental health impact of the pandemic surfacing among Northern Ireland’s children and young people.”

Positive impact

Announcing the investment, Minister McIlveen said: “Looking after the emotional health and wellbeing of our children is of paramount importance to me. That is why I have decided to extend the Healthy Happy Minds pilot into the next academic year.

“This programme continues to have a significant positive impact on the wellbeing of our youngest pupils and there is a clear need to continue providing them with this critical support.”

Funding will be provided to all primary schools including special schools and Education Other Than at School (EOTAS) with a primary school cohort.