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School and mental health link pilots taking work further to help more young people

A pilot scheme linking schools and mental health workers is being rolled out further helping more children and young people, it was revealed last week at the NHS Expo conference.

Dr Jackie Cornish, NHS England’s National Clinical Director for Children and Young People, said the pilot, which is a collaboration between NHS England and the Department for Education, was working really well at the sites where it was already running and in some places, like Sheffield, they were involving more schools.

In the ‘It takes a whole system to raise a child’ session she said: “The schools mental health pilot is across the country and these pilots are taking it further working with more and more schools in their areas. Even areas that weren’t part of the pilot are actively asking for the training from the Anna Freud Centre and that makes it really exciting and accessible.”

The Mental Health Services and Schools Link Pilots is testing a named single point of contact in 255 schools and in 22 pilot areas, meaning more joined up working between schools and health services. This has been backed by £3m of government funding.

The £3m funding backing the pilots includes £1.7m made available from NHS England and the Department for Education £1.5m. It will mean children and young people have better access to local, specialist mental health provision, and that support is consistent across services.

Funded jointly by the Department for Education and NHS England, each of 27 Clinical Commissioning Groups are working with at least 10 schools to trial this new way of working with a named lead across services. These were chosen from more than 80 applications to receive a boost of up to £85,000 per area.

The single point of contact in the schools is responsible for developing closer relationships with a counterpart in local NHS CAMHS services to improve knowledge and understanding of mental health issues, and to help ensure any referrals are timely and appropriate.

Dr Cornish said the pilots were working on really innovative plans such as setting up multi-agency workshops with “speed-dating” events giving teachers the opportunity to ask CAMHS professionals questions about Mental Health Services, distributing information to schools on mental health disorders and getting professionals together.

“We hope we can take the very best practice examples and disseminate them through the rest of the country,” she said. “It’s really important to see that children and young people’s mental health has got its moment in the sun at the moment and we’ve got this huge opportunity to make an impact.”

The lead CCGs which received funding are: East and North Hertfordshire, South Cheshire, Bedfordshire, Salford, East Riding of Yorkshire, Tameside and Glossop, Walsall, Halton, Birmingham, Camden, West Hampshire, Brighton and Hove, Sunderland, Gloucestershire, Somerset, Hammersmith and Fulham, Waltham Forest, Tower Hamlets, Chiltern, Wigan, Haringey, Sheffield.

A host of other speakers discussed new approaches to care including young person Oliver Scheidt from the NHS Youth Forum who brought his experiences to the audience.

He said: “Young people want to know who they are dealing with and how you can help them. They want to know how the person they are speaking to can help them and if they have questions who they should ask for. They want to know their views will be valued and they want to be spoken to in a way they understand.

“We all have rights and the more we can make young people aware of their rights then they will understand what they should expect and they can explain to the professional what care they want and how they can care for them.”

He also said it was important to use young people’s views and ensure they were involved in their care.

Channel website: https://www.england.nhs.uk/

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