Training of mental health support team workers begins

Written by: Pete Henshaw | Published:
Image: Adobe Stock

Young people will begin receiving support later this year from new Mental Health Support Teams set up in 25 “trailblazer” areas.

The teams will treat those with mild to moderate mental health issues in school and will help children and young people with more severe needs to access the right support, providing a link to specialist NHS services.

They will be run by trained mental health workers, with the first cohort beginning training this month at seven universities nationwide.

NHS figures published last term show that 12.8 per cent – roughly one in eight – five to 19-year-olds had at least one mental health disorder when assessed in 2017. This figure rises to 16.9 per cent of 17 to 19-year-olds.

Last month, the government confirmed that the new mental health support teams will be based in and near schools and colleges in 25 “trailblazer” areas. Each designated team will support up to 8,000 children and young people in around 20 schools and colleges in their area. The teams will:

  • Build on support already in place from school counsellors, nurses, educational psychologists and the voluntary sector.
  • Support children and young people with mild to moderate mental health issues.
  • Help children and young people with more severe needs to access the right support, and provide a link to specialist NHS services.

The initiative is also detailed in the NHS Long Term Plan, which was published earlier this week. It states: “These school and college-based services will be supervised by NHS children and young people mental health staff and will provide special extra capacity for early intervention and on-going help.

“Teams will receive information and training to help them support young people more likely to face mental health issues – such as LGBT+ individuals or children in care – and as they are rolled out, we will test approaches to support children and young people outside of education settings.”

The government has previously been criticised for the slow roll-out of the initiative. It was first announced in the government’s December 2017 Green Paper, but the plans are to reach only a fifth or a quarter of the country by 2023/24.

It comes alongside the government’s plan to fund Mental Health First Aid England training for a senior mental health lead in all state secondary schools.
Education secretary Damian Hinds said: “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. We want to build on the range of excellent work that already takes place in schools and colleges.”


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