19 August 2019

More pupils across City and Hackney, Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes will have access to NHS mental health support thanks to funding for a new programme. The respective Integrated Commissioning partnership boards, including the Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG), mental health providers and education providers successfully bid for funding to be part of NHS England’s School Trailblazer programme.

It will see Mental Health Support Teams (MHSTs) working directly in schools and colleges in these areas by providing on-site access to early mental health support. They will help speed up access to specialist services and build on support already in place from school counsellors, nurses, educational psychologists and the voluntary sector, so that more children and young people get the help and support they need.

Acting Early

The teams will provide early intervention for mild to moderate mental health issues, such as exam stress, low mood or friendship difficulties as well as providing support to staff. They will make referrals easier for schools and reduce waiting times for young people, and also act as a link with local specialist children and young people’s mental health services ensuring, if appropriate, that pupils can access more intensive support.

One in nine young people aged five to 15 had a diagnosable mental health condition in 2017 and teenagers with a mental health disorder are more than twice as likely to have a mental disorder in adulthood.

The Government is creating 124 new MHSTs in 48 areas across the country. Each designated team will support about 20 schools and colleges in their area.

Working Together

The programme will start in October. In City and Hackney, East London NHS Foundation Trust (ELFT) will be the lead NHS provider supported by the wider City and Hackney CAMHS Alliance. ELFT and Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust will be the lead NHS providers In Bedfordshire and Milton Keynes.

Henry Iwunze, ELFT Associate Director for East London Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS). “The Trailblazer programme offers a really exciting opportunity to work differently with young people, supporting their mental health needs at an earlier stage and in a familiar setting,”

Dr Sarah Whiteman, Medical Director, Bedfordshire, Luton & Milton Keynes Commissioning Collaborative said: “This service will deliver evidence-based interventions for people who have mild to moderate mental health and emotional wellbeing needs.  It is extremely important that children and young people can get the right support enabling them to remain in education.”