Extra mental health funding for ‘inspiring’ school services helping young people

An extra £4.3m has been awarded in part to run school-based mental health services across south west London.

Richmond council and NHS services successfully bid for the national additional funding to improve mental health in services for children, young people, families and teachers.

In Wandsworth a project for BAME children will be set up to help those who have suffered trauma and in Croydon the aim is to reduce serious youth violence and early intervention services will be introduced for children with special needs in Merton and Sutton.

GP Dr Andrew Murray said: “Working more closely with schools has completely changed the way we look at improving the mental health of our young people.

“The pressures they live with are growing and changing and we have to adapt to support them. I continue to be inspired by the enthusiasm of the schools involved and the dedication to the wellbeing of their pupils.”

The programme is led by South West London Health and Care Partnership covering Croydon, Sutton, Merton, Kingston, Richmond and Wandsworth.

The funding in addition to £1.85m received last year will allow health support teams to support 81,000 children, up from 25,000 from last year.

Councillor Piers Allen, Richmond Council chair of the Adult Social Services, Health and Housing Committee, said: “Children today experience pressures that we as adults often find hard to appreciate, or possibly even understand.

“We are much more aware of mental health in the education sector now than in decades gone by and rightly so, and teachers are often able to recognise the early warning signs of changes in their pupils’ behaviour or mood, but they are not mental health professionals.”

He added: “This additional funding will ensure that all are more equipped to deal with the challenges our young people face in a school-based setting.”

Some of the money will be used to expand mental health teams in schools with the aim of building emotional resilience for children.

Headteacher Patrick Shields of St Mary’s Catholic High School in Croydon said: “In an increasingly pressurised society, it’s really important we support young people with their mental health.

“At St Mary’s we are focusing on improving emotional wellbeing and this additional resource means our families and pupils will have access to more direct help from qualified professionals.”

Support workers will be offering one-to-one support and group sessions for students and families where it will be focusing on practical skills including practicing conversations to encourage better wellbeing.

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