Children with anxiety should be allowed a staggered return to school, Love Island star Dr Alex George has said.
The A&E doctor and newly-appointed Government adviser said teachers should allow children days off for their mental health as they return to their desks later this year.
Dr George told BBC’s Newscast: “As children are integrated back to schools, we need to be a little bit more flexible about the time of transitioning back.
“You can’t just expect someone who’s very anxious to go back to school, will go back to normal.
“It might be that that child needs a bit of time to integrate slowly back in the classroom, so that rather than chucking them in and exacerbating the problem, we do it gently.”
He told Adam Fleming on the BBC Sounds podcast: “If you’re happy and you feel good, and you’re engaged and you feel supported at school and you’ve been able to take time when you needed to, you’re probably more likely to not only be academically successful but take care of yourself physically as well.”
Dr George, who has spoken publicly about the suicide of his 19-year-old brother, Llyr, added: “We do need to find a way to make sure that children who’ve gone back to school who’ve lost loved ones, who are in trouble, they need to have somewhere to go, somewhere that the teacher can tangibly reach out to to support them.
“Children and adolescent mental health services do an incredible job, but they are utterly overworked and they’ve got too many referrals.”
In January, Dr George said his “number one goal” for 2021 was to “help bring meaningful change to mental health education at schools across the UK”.
He urged his Instagram followers to help him meet the Prime Minister and members of the Cabinet to make it happen.
Dr George later met with Boris Johnson and told him he wants to break the “stigma” about mental health, before beginning his unpaid role within the Department for Education.
Mr Johnson has said he hoped it would be safe to begin the reopening of England’s schools from March 8.