10 Somerset Schools to take part in mental health pilot

Date: 13 January 2016

Somerset Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) have successfully bid for £50k to fund a mental health pilot in 10 Somerset schools. The funding, announced by Education Secretary Nicki Morgan, is part of £3million government funding for 22 pilot areas across the country to improve mental health services for children in 255 schools.

Somerset’s pilot, which is being run in conjunction with NHS England, will help Somerset Partnership’s Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services (Specialist CAMHS) and the 10 schools involved in the pilot work together to promote rapid and better access to support in Taunton, Bridgwater and Minehead.

The Mental Health Services and Schools Link Pilots will test a named single point of contact in 10 schools in Taunton, Bridgwater and Minehead and promote more joined up working between schools and CAMHS.  Somerset’s bid was chosen from more than 80 applications to receive a boost of up to £85,000 for each CCG area.

The single point of contact in the schools will be responsible for developing closer relationships with a counterpart in Somerset Partnership’s CAMHS services to improve knowledge and understanding of mental health issues. Together they will work to promote greater clarity about support and resources available to support and maintain children’s emotional health and wellbeing and to help ensure any referrals to specialist CAMHS are timely and appropriate.

The nominated school point of contact and the CAMHS Link workers will be supported in the work through a two training days being run by the Anna Freud centre. The work will be evaluated nationally to understand the impact of joint working and a national conference held to share learning and good practice.

The pilot is part of the vision set out in the Future in Mind report, which made a number of proposals on how mental health services could be improved, including for children and young people.

Andy Heron, Interim Chief Executive of Somerset Partnership NHS Foundation Trust welcomed the announcement and said:

“I am pleased that Somerset Partnership has been selected to trial this single point of contact in ten of our local schools. The subject of mental health is still a delicate one in our society. The earlier we can get children to feel comfortable enough to talk about and recognise any emotional problems and mental health issues, the earlier we can treat them and the better the chances of recovery. I know that our staff in our CAMH service are committed to this pilot and with their commitment we can really make a difference.”

Deborah Howard, Somerset CCG and Somerset County Council’s Joint Head of Mental Health Services, said:

“I am delighted that Somerset has been chosen as part of this exciting pilot. This provides an excellent opportunity to assist children and young people at a time in their lives when some may struggle with social and emotional problems. As a pilot area we want to see what type of support works best and share our learning with the rest of the NHS in England.”