Many more school children in Hertfordshire and west Essex will be able to get early help with their mental health difficulties, thanks to a national ‘Trailblazer’ programme.
Two new mental health support teams will join those already in place in 32 schools and colleges in St Albans and East Hertfordshire, following another successful bid for national funding.
One of the new teams will cover special schools across Hertfordshire and west Essex, hosted by the PALMS* service at Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust and the other, hosted by the mental health charity Mind, will cover schools in Harlow.
Staff for the new teams will be recruited from September and will work in schools and colleges to:
- support children and young people who are experiencing mild to moderate mental health issues
- help the senior mental health lead in each school or college to develop the support that they offer to the whole school community
- give timely advice to school and college staff, liaising with external specialist services to help children and young people to get the right support and stay in education
Dr Geraldine O’Sullivan, Hertfordshire and West Essex Sustainability and Transformation Partnership (STP) Clinical Lead for Mental Health said:
"The announcement of these two additional teams is great news for children, parents and carers for our area."
"Half of all lifetime cases of mental health disorders begin by the age of 14 and one in eight children experience a mental health problem. That’s why getting early help from someone who can identify children’s mental health issues and put in place the right support is vitally important. This is an important part of our plans to deliver a healthier future for our children and young people."
Mental health support teams are a new workforce. Each team includes Education Mental Health Practitioners, higher level therapists or senior staff, a team manager and administrative support. The teams are exploring ways of delivering care and advice for young people’s mental health in the familiar environment of their school or college, helping to make getting mental health help as ‘normal’ as a visit to a first-aider.
Strengthening the links between education and health services should also help to minimise delays for children and young people who need help. Children who may be struggling with issues like anxiety about friendships or family pressures can be supported, alongside friends and family members, to build their understanding of mental health and how to manage their wellbeing.