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NHS England and the Department of Education have joined forces to launch a multimillion pound joint mental health pilot scheme for hundreds of schools.
The Mental Health Services and Schools Link Pilots will test 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.
Dr Jackie Cornish, National Clinical Director for Children and Young People at NHS England, said: “This is an opportunity for CCGs and schools to work together more closely, trial a new way of thinking and a new model. Our aim is to significantly improve the care and experience we can offer to children and young people with mental health problems.
“We know that if we can help young people effectively at the earliest possible age we can gain the best possible outcome for them in the long run and that is why we are focusing our attention to improve joint working with schools.”
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 will be 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.
They will be supported in the work through a series of training days. The work will be evaluated nationally to understand the impact of joint working.
Education Secretary, Nicky Morgan, said: “Mental health is a key priority for this government and for me personally. The development of character, resilience and good mental health is vital alongside academic success in equipping young people with the skills needed to fulfil their potential.
“That’s why I’m delighted to see these schools engaging in joined up approaches with mental health services to ensure that children, parents and teachers know where to turn and how to access the best support for young people with mental health concerns.”
This investment is building on a £1.4 billion government investment in children and young people’s mental health over the next five years. This is a key government priority, as part of the drive to put mental health on an equal footing with physical health.
The pilot is part of the vision set out in the Future in Mind report, which made a number of proposals on how mental health services for children and young people could be improved.
Minister for Mental Health, Alistair Burt said: “When a young person is brave enough to ask for help from their school or doctor, we should never let them fall through the gap because services aren’t in touch with each other. That is why this initiative is so important.
“Children and young people’s mental health is one of my personal priorities and these pilots are part of the biggest transformation to young people’s mental health that the sector has seen.”
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.
The Future in Mind report set out the challenges faced in getting mental health support to children and young people, especially the most vulnerable.
There will be an investment of £1.4 billion in children and young people’s mental health services over the next five years.