The NHS has announced a further 112 Mental Health Support Teams (MHSTs) for schools across England.
Mental Health Support Teams provide early intervention on some mental health and emotional wellbeing issues, as well as helping staff within a school or college setting to provide a ‘whole school approach’ to mental health and wellbeing.
In the North West, there are currently 35 teams working across more than 350 educational settings. The number of teams will rise to 45 by the end of 2021/22, with a further 16 working within schools and colleges across the region by the end of 2023/24. The extra 112 teams announced for England will be split on a fair share basis, and will increase coverage from 25% to 40% of the children and young people population
Dr David Levy, Regional Medical Director for NHS England and NHS Improvement North West said, “I am pleased that more Mental Health Support Teams will be supporting our young people, across the region.
“Encouraging positive mental health in formative years has been proven to lead to good mental health in adults, and better health outcomes for society as a whole.
“These dedicated teams will provide a crucial link between young people, schools and NHS services.”
In Heywood, Middleton and Rochdale, the young people’s mental health support team, Thrive in Education, isdelivered by Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust in partnership with local charities Early Break, Your Trust, Place2Be and Youth in Mind, and helps children aged four to 18, who are experiencing low level emotional and behavioural difficulties.
Kate Thomas, trainee Educational Mental Health Practitioner from Thrive in Education, works with the students at St Cuthbert’s High School in Rochdale, as well as two other schools.
She said, “I provide one-to-one sessions and group work for children and young people experiencing low mood, stress and anxiety – often these young people may have previously gone under the radar for mental health support. It is an opportunity for them to talk about their feelings and for me to provide low intensity therapy and interventions.”
A young person who recently received support was displaying symptoms of anxiety which impacted on her thoughts, feelings and behaviours. This affected her friendship groups and she often worried about coming to school. Following low intensity sessions, this young person reduced the amount of time she was worrying and regained her confidence. Her parents felt the support ‘gave them their daughter back.’
Another young person who was assessed for anxiety went on to disclose issues with food which could be the start of an eating disorder. Kate adds: “I am able to build a rapport with young people which is incredibly important, they have a safe space to talk about their feelings. This early support is vital so issues they are experiencing don’t escalate.”
Kelly Fairbrother, student health and wellbeing officer for St Cuthbert’s said, “Kate is such as valuable part of our community. She has worked with many of our students and has made such an enormous difference to so many already.
“Every child who has received support has responded really positively – they have welcomed the opportunity to talk through their feelings and develop goals to achieve.”
Image: (L-R) Kelly Fairbrother and Kate Thomas