Support for young people in the borough living with mild to moderate mental health issues is to be boosted through the creation of Mental Health Support Teams (MHSTs) that will work in local schools and colleges.
The new teams, working alongside established vital services like counselling (including Kooth online counselling), educational psychologists and school nurses will build on what is currently available and complete a ‘whole school/college’ approach. This will strengthen relationships between professionals, raise awareness of mental health concerns and improve referrals to specialist help when needed. Moreover, young people struggling with mental health will benefit from more joined up care and support across schools, colleges and specialist NHS services.
Speaking about the new scheme, Dr Charlotte Benjamin, Chair of Barnet CCG said, “Barnet CCG is thrilled to be joining with local partners to deliver on the commitments made in the NHS Long Term Plan to invest in and expand on the community-based mental health services available. The Mental Health Support Teams will play an important role in making sure that local children and young people have access to care that is joined up and meets their individual needs.”
Nationally, one in nine young people aged 5 to 15 have a diagnosable mental health condition: in Barnet the figure is 4,776 children and young people aged 5 – 16 years old. We know that if mental health issues are not addressed in a joined-up and comprehensive way, young people can experience poorer life outcomes and fall out of education and training. This initiative will make a major difference to the mental health of our young people.
The new service will be delivered in partnership with Barnet Council, Barnet, Enfield and Haringey Mental Health Trust, Young Barnet Foundation and CommUNITY Barnet.
Councillor David Longstaff, Chairman of Barnet Council’s Children, Education and Safeguarding Committee, said: “The mental well-being of our young people is something we take very seriously. I am pleased that our work with Barnet CCG will see these new teams on hand to compliment the range of support already on offer. The teams will play an important role in raising awareness, connecting young people with help if needed and in giving them every chance of reaching their full potential in life.”
As well as providing timely advice to school and college staff, MHSTs will liaise with external specialist services; help children and young people to get the right support and stay in education. The service will also work as part of an integrated referral system with community services to ensure that children and young people who need it receive appropriate support as quickly as possible.
Barnet’s two MHSTs will provide extra capacity for early intervention and ongoing help within 33 educational settings in the west of Barnet covering Edgware and parts of Colindale and Mill Hill.
Throughout the three year programme, learning and best practice will be shared with schools across the borough, working closely with school improvement programmes such as Resilient Schools.
The MHSTs will focus on mental health issues arising from pressure to perform well at exams at all ages and for young people aged 14 years and above who are moving on from secondary school. MHSTs will provide a year-round programme of work structured around building personal and community resilience.