21 December 2018

It has just been announced that Tower Hamlets has been chosen as one of 25 sites nationally to implement the government green paper proposals to establish Mental Health Support Teams in schools. This follows a successful bid jointly developed by ELFT with partners in the CCG, the Local Authority and the young people’s charity  Step Forward.

The cash injection means that new expanded teams will be able to respond to the needs of children and young people with mild to moderate mental health needs and provide a link to specialist NHS services when required. The teams will be led by CAMHS and cover a mixed group of schools across the borough. 

Up to 1,000 additional children and young people per year will receive support from this service, thus contributing to the national priority of increasing access to mental health services and improve outcomes for children and young people. It will also have much greater reach for vulnerable children, particularly in primary schools.  

Through this pilot the aim is to develop a model that is not only effective for Tower Hamlets children and families, but one that can be replicated across the whole of the country. 

Next Steps

The pilot will start in January 2019 to ensure that services are up and running by December 2019.  Work is underway to plan engagement with schools and families to shape the model and establish a multi-agency steering group to provide strategic leadership for the pilot.

Additional funding will also be made available to manage the increasing pressures on specialist CAMHS and achieve an average waiting time of 4 weeks to enter treatment.

Bill Williams,  CAMHS General Manager for Tower Hamlets explained what this means for his teams and the young people they work with. “This is very exciting. We are all really delighted that this project is going forward. 

It will allow us to expand the service to encompass two new mental health teams and to recruit a range of staff at all levels. The initiative will also involve working with Kings College and UCL to embed a comprehensive training programme.

One big challenge will be to find much-needed space to accommodate the new teams. As this is part of a national initiative, it means potentially doubling the number of CAMHS practitioners country-wide.” 

On hearing the news, Richard Simmonds, CAMHS Tower Hamlets Psychological Therapies Lead said:  “This is a huge financial investment for the borough, an important and much-needed investment in our children’s futures. It means we will be able to identify early emerging emotional needs and health problems. We will be able to work closely with schools to increase knowledge about mental health and to expand resilience. This is a win for everyone in our community, not just children and their families, but a massive step towards a whole community approach to mental health.”