The NHS has announced that it is partnering with schools and colleges in 25 areas across England to provide expert mental health support for up to half a million pupils a year – and Liverpool has been chosen as one of these trailblazer sites.
As part of the Government’s ambitious plans to transform children and young people’s mental health through the NHS Long-Term Plan, new Mental Health Support Teams will support a population of more than 470,000 children and young people, who will be based in and near schools and colleges, with support starting from next year.
One in nine young people aged five to 15 had a mental health condition in 2017 and teenagers with a mental disorder are more than two and a half times more likely to have a mental disorder in adulthood.
Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock said:
“Children and young people with mental illness should receive the same level of support as those with physical illness.
“Made possible by the extra £20.5 billion we are investing in the NHS, today’s announcement will see the health and education systems come together so our children can access the help they need at school and takes us a step closer to achieving our goal of parity between mental and physical health.”
Each designated team will support up to 8,000 children and young people and will be responsible for a cluster of around 20 schools and colleges each, depending on their size.
The teams will build on support already in place from school counsellors, nurses, educational psychologists and the voluntary sector to treat those with mild to moderate mental health issues in school and will help children and young people with more severe needs to access the right support and provide a link to specialist NHS services.
Education Secretary Damian Hinds said:
“Children today experience pressures that we as adults often find hard to appreciate, or possibly even understand. We are much more aware of mental health in the education sector now than in decades gone by and rightly so, and teachers are often able to recognise the early warning signs of changes in their pupils’ behaviour or mood, but they are not mental health professionals. That’s why through these new support teams working with schools, we will speed up access to specialist services and make expert advice available to those who need it the most.
“We want to build on the range of excellent work that already takes place in schools and colleges. Supporting good mental health goes hand-in-hand with equipping young people with the qualifications, knowledge and resilience they need to live a fulfilling adult life. I want to make sure that our children are able to grow up to become happy and well-rounded individuals well set to deal with the challenges of the modern world. By making health education a required part of the curriculum - teaching what good mental and physical health looks like, the important links between the two and how to seek help when needed - we will help to give young people the tools they need to be ready to thrive when they leave school.”
Minister for Mental Health, Inequalities and Suicide Prevention, Jackie Doyle-Price said:
“Early intervention is crucial when it comes to mental ill-health and today’s announcement will ensure that young people can immediately access life-changing support when the signs of mental health issues first appear, helping to prevent these problems from escalating further into adulthood.
“Encouraging young people to think about their mental wellbeing in the same way they do their physical aches and pains is a vital part of our goal to put mental and physical health on equal footing and will help ensure no young person is left to suffer in silence.
“It’s estimated one in four of us has a common mental disorder at any one time – I’m confident that by introducing improved access to critical care at a young age we are delivering on our promise to help people lead healthier lives for longer and build an NHS that’s fit for the future, which will be set out further in our Long-Term Plan.”
The Department for Education will also fund training for senior mental health leads in schools and colleges – working to ensure a ‘whole school’ approach to mental health and wellbeing.
These leads will work closely with the Mental Health Support Teams to ensure children and young people get the right help as soon as possible including harnessing new technology.
The trailblazer sites are made up of the NHS and key local stakeholders, including schools and colleges, local authorities and third sector organisations and will be rolled out to between one-fifth and one quarter of the country by 2023/24.
Plans for further expansion of children and young people’s mental health services will be set out in the Long-Term Plan for the NHS.
Claire Murdoch, NHS England’s National Mental Health Director said:
“There is an enormous amount of work underway to support children and young people when they experience mental health difficulties. Working in partnership with colleagues in education such as school nurses and educational psychologists, this will improve the mental health support and provision on offer and we look forward to seeing the results over the next few years.”
The 25 trailblazer areas are:
Midlands and East: