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Mental health support teams in Morecambe Bay schools

12 July 2019

Morecambe Bay Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has been successful in their bid to be awarded a trailblazer initiative by NHS England which will see the implementation of Mental Health Support Teams in schools.

Jade Ainsworth

Enough funding has been secured for two teams in the Morecambe Bay area, one will cover Morecambe and Heysham and the other one will cover Barrow.

These teams will provide early intervention on mild to moderate mental health issues, such as exam stress, behavioural difficulties or friendship issues, as well as providing support to staff within a school and college setting.

They will act as a link with local children and young people’s mental health services and be supervised by NHS staff.

Jade Ainsworth from Barrow is involved in the redesign of CAMHS (Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services) and welcomes the news that there will be more mental health support in schools.

She said: “I started struggling with my mental health when I was 14 years old and I didn’t get much help through school.  The change in my behaviour was put down to just being a teenager and I started to believe that maybe they were right.

“I then went to sixth form to study psychology which I was enjoying but then my mental health plummeted and after six months I had to drop out and ended up being hospitalised.”

Over the years Jade has been moved around the North West to different mental health facilities and has faced a number of challenges. She feels passionately that it’s in the best interest of the patient for mental health issues to be addressed straight away.

She added: “When it comes to mental health, early intervention is crucial. I firmly believe that if I had of received the help I needed when I was 14, I might not have ended up in hospital at 16, having to put my life on hold.

“I believe that this support being brought into schools will have a huge impact on the mental health of children and will not only benefit them but also the communities they live in.”

Proposals for schools to have Mental Health Support Teams were set out in the Children and Young People Mental Health Green Paper and Long-Term Plan for the NHS.

Dr Lauren Dixon, GP Executive Lead for Children and Young People at Morecambe Bay CCG said: “This is fantastic news for the local area. This project will provide much needed support for children at schools located in Morecambe and Barrow, which are both areas identified as having high levels of deprivation.

“Having Mental Health Support Teams in schools will provide support for children with mental health needs at a much earlier stage, this will mean that our CAMHS services will be able to focus on those who most need the specialist input they provide.

“The bid was specifically targeted to meet the needs that young people have told us about, and it was developed in partnership with schools, the voluntary sector, CAMHS and local authorities.”

Each team will have six mental health professionals and 8,000 children in each area will have access to the support they provide.

The teams will begin their training in January 2020 with the view that full support will be offered to schools from January 2021.