West Sussex has been successful in a bid to develop extra mental health support in schools across two pilot areas.
New specialist Mental Health Support Teams will work with children in over 20 schools in a joint partnership between West Sussex County Council, West Sussex Clinical Commissioning Groups and the Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.
Following an analysis of need, the one-year pilot will be rolled out in north-west Crawley and in Bognor Regis and Felpham.
The specialist teams will:
• Provide one-to-one support to children with mild to moderate mental health issues, building on the support already available
• Work alongside school counsellors, nurses and designated mental health leads and introduce or develop their whole school or college approach
• Liaise with external specialist services to help students with more severe needs to get the right support
Richard Burrett, West Sussex County Council Cabinet Member for Education and Skills, said: “One in nine young people aged five to 15 are believed to have a mental health condition and we know early intervention is crucial. So I’m delighted that West Sussex school children will benefit from this exciting new pilot and I look forward to seeing it progress.”
Dr Patience Okorie, Clinical Director Crawley CCG, said: “This is an exciting development and has come at a time when we have seen increasing need for emotional and mental wellbeing support amongst young people. We recognise the need for early intervention and support and had found there was a huge gap for this.
"The new pilot service is a great opportunity to ensure young people get the help they need at the right time and the right place.”
Alison Wallis, Clinical Director for Children and Young People’s Services at Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We are so pleased that we were successful in our bid for this new service and that we will be able to improve and build on the early and preventative support that we currently provide for children and young people in West Sussex.
“Young people spend a large proportion of their time at school, so it really does make sense for there to be teams based in schools who are specially trained in how to support young people if they raise concerns about their mental health or emotional wellbeing.
“I am really looking forward to seeing the positive impact that this pilot service will make.”
The Mental Health Support Teams will now be developed and should be up and running in West Sussex by September 2020.
It is part of NHS England’s ambition to roll out the specialist support nationally to reach up to a quarter of the country’s young people by 2022-23.