Mental Health Support Teams
The Department for Education (DfE) has announced 123 new Mental Health Support Teams that will operate in 57 areas (see the full list here).
Each team will support around 20 schools and colleges in their area, building 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, when they need it. These teams represent year 2 of the Mental Health Support Team programme, and are in addition to the 59 teams that will be fully operational by January in 25 'trailblazer' areas announced last December.
The teams will be comprised of newly trained education mental health practitioners, as well as senior clinicians and higher-level therapists. They will work across schools and colleges to deliver evidence-based interventions for children and young people with mild to moderate mental health problems; support senior mental health leads in schools and colleges to develop a holistic approach to promote well-being and good mental health; and give timely advice to school/college staff, and liaise with external services, to help children and young people to get the right help and stay in education.
Senior mental health leads training
The DfE has also launched an exercise to recruit a specialist provider to deliver training for senior mental health leads in schools and colleges, so they have the skills and knowledge to promote positive mental health and well-being and implement effective processes for children and young people to receive appropriate support.
Part of the role of Mental Health Support Teams will be to work with senior mental health leads in schools and colleges to support them in developing a holistic approach to mental health.
The Link Programme
The secretary of state also announced that every school, college and alternative provision setting will be offered training through a series of workshops as part of the Link Programme, with the most appropriate member of staff from each put forward to take part alongside mental health specialists.
The Link Programme is intended to improve partnerships with professional NHS mental health services, raise awareness of mental health concerns and improve referrals to specialist help when needed.
The four-year training scheme will be run by the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families, backed by £9.3 million of government investment. It builds on 1,500 schools and colleges that have already taken up this training during the pilot stage of the programme, launched in 2016.
Starting in September, the training will be rolled out to schools and colleges in phases over four years, starting with areas where schools and colleges are already attached to Mental Health Support Teams. The Link Programme will deliver just under 1,000 training sessions across England involving two whole-day workshops, for up to 20 schools at a time, to cover all 22,000 schools and colleges, including alternative provision settings. It will encourage collaborative work so children and young people do not fall between the cracks or experience poor transition between services.
First published 16 July 2019