Increased mental health support is to be provided for children and young people in County Durham, following the success of a funding application.
Teams will work in schools and colleges in areas of social disadvantage after the county was one of 57 areas across the country chosen by NHS England.
The application was made by a partnership consisting of Durham County Council; NHS North Durham Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG); NHS Durham Dales, Easington and Sedgefield CCG; Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust (TEWV); Investing in Children and Rollercoaster, a parent-peer support programme.
The new mental health support teams will begin working in 2020.
• Deliver evidence-based interventions to children and young people experiencing mild to moderate mental health issues.
• Support the senior mental health lead in each school or college to introduce or develop their whole school or college approach.
• Give timely advice to school and college staff, and liaise with external specialist services, to help children and young people to get the right support and stay in education.
Cllr Lucy Hovvels MBE, the council’s Cabinet member for adult and health services, said: “We know around one in ten children in County Durham have a diagnosable mental health disorder and tackling persistent inequalities and adversity in childhood are key priorities for us.
“Supporting more vulnerable children as early as possible is central to our strategic approach to improving life chances and the creation of these teams will allow us to do exactly that.”
Cllr Olwyn Gunn, the council’s Cabinet member for children and young people’s services, added: “These new teams will build on the work we already do in partnership with other agencies, both in schools and in communities, to support children and young people with their mental health.
“Strengthening the links between education and health services will reduce any delays in a young person receiving help and the fact it is being delivered in the familiar environment of their school or college can only be of benefit.”
Mike Brierley, director lead for mental health at both North Durham and Durham Dales, Easington and Sedgefield CCGs, said: “This is great news for our children and young people in County Durham.
“To have support directly into schools will make such a huge difference for the children, school staff and families. This is coupled with being able to access an online counselling and emotional well-being platform for children and young people, which will be available for the new school term in September.
“This demonstrates our continued system wide focus to invest in emotional and well-being for our children of County Durham.”
Michelle Trainer, head of child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) at TEWV in County Durham, said: “Poor emotional and psychological well-being can have a negative impact on many areas of a young person’s life, including their academic achievement.
“This new funding will enable mental health specialists to more easily identify young people who are experiencing difficulties and offer targeted, effective support at the earliest opportunity, helping to improve outcomes for individuals and their families.”
The teams are in the first wave of 123 being rolled out nationally during the course of next year.