NHS to work with schools on improving mental health support

By Caroline Henshaw on 20 December 2018

Staff for new mental health teams will start training in January with aim of helping more than 470,000 pupils

The NHS will start working with schools next year to provide mental health support to some half a million pupils, the government has announced.

Staff for the first 59 mental health support teams will start training in January 2019, with the aim of beginning work by the end of the year.

Each team will support up to 8,000 children and young people and will be responsible for a cluster of around 20 schools and colleges.

They will work with school counsellors, nurses and educational psychologists to support more than 470,000 children and young people with severe mental health needs.

“We want to build on the range of excellent work that already takes place in schools and colleges,” said education secretary Damian Hinds.

“Supporting good mental health goes hand-in-hand with equipping young people with the qualifications, knowledge and resilience they need to live a fulfilling adult life.

“Through these new support teams working with schools, we will speed up access to specialist services and make expert advice available to those who need it the most.”

NHS research released last month revealed growing mental health problems among young people, particularly rising levels of emotional disorders.

'Life-changing' mental health support

Teenagers with a mental health disorder are more than two and a half times more likely to have a mental health disorder in adulthood.

The Department for Education has faced criticism for not offering more widespread support for pupil mental health in schools.

But the deputy director of the DfE’s funding unit recently suggested that the spectre of Brexit meant ministers were unclear when any new funding will be provided.   

The 25 "trailblazer" sites announced today will bring together NHS staff along with schools, colleges, local authorities and third-sector organisations.

They include seven in the North, another seven in London, five in the Midlands and East, four in the South East and two in the South West.

The government plans to roll them out to between one fifth and one quarter of the country by 2023-2024.

“It’s estimated one in four of us has a common mental disorder at any one time,” said the minster for mental health, Jackie Doyle-Price.

“Today’s announcement will ensure that young people can immediately access life-changing support when the signs of mental health issues first appear, helping to prevent these problems from escalating further into adulthood.”