Two new schemes are working to improve mental health support for children and young people, after Northumberland CCG was successful in a bid for Government funding.
Mental health support teams have now been launched in schools in two Northumberland towns, and by December 2020, all of the county’s mental health services will be able to see children and young people within four weeks of referral.
Northumberland was one of only 12 CCGs to be awarded funding for the national ‘trailblazer’ pilot schemes focusing on mental health support teams in schools and reducing waiting times.
The mental health support teams, which are being piloted in Blyth and Hexham, aim to support children with lower-level mental health concerns. This will make it easier to access help at an earlier stage, before problems develop to higher level that might need support from secondary care mental health services.
Health providers have worked hard to reduce waiting times in Northumberland, and this targeted approach will help children be seen quicker.
The initiative will also help ensure that children are put on the right pathway for treatment and support more quickly, reducing the number of professionals they have to see. Providers are also working towards creating a single point of access to mental health services for children and young people.
One in four people experience mental health problems, with many of these concerns having their origins in childhood – so by providing extra support to help children to be as resilient as possible, we can reduce some of the problems that can continue and become more acute in adulthood.
Like other areas, Northumberland is seeing increasing numbers of children accessing mental health services, but we are also aware that there are children who don’t access services, who could benefit from early advice and support.
The NHS encourages children and young people to come forward and talk about issues that concern them. More information about looking after your mental health is available from the Every Mind Matters website.
Engagement with children and young people
In July 2019, the CCG held engagement workshops at eight schools across the Blyth and Hexham areas.
These events enabled children and young people to have their say and share their experiences and views on how the teams could support their wellbeing. The feedback received form these events has helped shape the Mental Health Support Teams.
We also asked the children and young people to name our service. They chose ‘Be You’ – a little reminder to always be themselves.
The video below from Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families was shown during the engagement workshops.
The ‘Be you’ mental health support team
‘Be You’ is a new programme focusing on schools which is designed to improve and support the mental health and wellbeing of young people; enabling them to build emotional resilience and identify issues early. Initially this programme will be delivered in the areas of Blyth and Hexham, but if it’s successful we hope to expand it countywide.
Our team is aimed at supporting teachers to enhance mental health provision within schools so we’re here to give advice and act as a bridge to other services. But more than anything we are here to help young people develop healthy habits towards mental health and, where necessary, offer support at an early stage.
- Senior mental health leads – the primary contact point for the ‘Be You’ team within schools and supporting mental health and wellbeing day to day in their school
- Education Mental Health Practitioners (EMHPs) – work directly with individuals and groups of children and young people at risk of developing mild emotional difficulties.
- Primary Mental Health Workers (PMHWs)– undertake interventions with individuals for moderate mental health needs and support other professionals through advice and training
- Educational psychologists and assistant psychologist – working with schools to develop whole schools approaches and delivering enhancements to staff knowledge and skills in this area.
- Senior mental health lead coordinator – a qualified teacher, the role will support the senior mental health leads, chairing peer support group meetings and making sure learning is shared.
- Peer educator – works to develop peer mentors so young people can help each other manage their own mental health and provide support when emotional difficulties arise.
How does the ‘Be You’ programme work with existing services?
All other services currently available to schools and young people to support their emotional health and wellbeing continue to exist. This means the Early Help, SEND Support, NHS services and voluntary organisations continue to operate alongside ‘Be You’. We’re something extra – not a replacement.