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Birmingham and Solihull children set to benefit from new mental health support in schools and colleges

Children and young people at local schools and colleges are set to benefit from swifter and improved access to mental health support following NHS Birmingham and Solihull Clinical Commissioning Group’s (CCG) successful bid to secure funding to establish Mental Health Support Teams (MHST) within or near to schools and colleges. 

The MHSTs will become part of the school community, developing models of early treatments for mild to moderate mental health and emotional wellbeing issues, for those experiencing anxiety, low-mood, behavioural difficulties or friendship issues. Cognitive behaviour therapy will be offered where anxiety or self-harm is identified, as well as group support for parents to include issues around conduct disorders and communication difficulties.

Linking with local children and young people’s mental health services, the MHSTs will build relationships with schools and colleges and be supervised by NHS staff.

NHS Birmingham and Solihull CCG’s Director of Joint Commissioning for Mental Health, Children and Maternity and Personalisation, Joanne Carney said: “We are delighted that we have been successful in our bid to establish new mental health support teams across our patch. This funding will ensure that children and young people have earlier and easier access to the help and support that they need, at the right time in the right way.

“The MHSTs will also provide help and support for education staff within school and college settings, as well as offering development opportunities to education staff for specialist learning, who will then be able to assist in the provision of mental health care at the earliest opportunity in accessible local places.”

Dave Foster, Deputy Head Teacher of Forestdale Primary School, in Frankley, Birmingham, agreed saying: “The closer ties with trained mental health support teams and teaching staff will improve both the early identification and support of our most vulnerable children and their parents.”

Tom Ashley, Birmingham Education Partnership’s Inclusion Lead, added: “Emotional health and wellbeing has been a growing concern in society and schools are now being required to provide support in this area. To have a team, who are not only skilled mental health colleagues, working with schools, and to know that part of their training is specifically about working in education settings and with education staff, is a real opportunity for us to change practice. Schools that we are working with are keen to ensure this has a really positive impact on children and young people’s wellbeing and are looking forward to working with the team.”

NHS Birmingham and Solihull CCG is one of 57 areas across England, that will launch Mental Health Support Teams (MHST) in 2020.

The funding for the MHSTs is part of the Government’s long term funding commitment which includes better access to mental health services. Further plans for the development of children and young people’s mental  health care are detailed in the NHS Long Term Plan.

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