Several schools across the west Essex and Hertfordshire are to receive extra support with mental health issues.

The NHS West Essex CCG confirmed that one of the new teams will cover special schools across two counties thanks to a national ‘Trailblazer’ programme.

The Essex-based team will be hosted by the mental health charity Mind, covering schools in Harlow in particular while PALMS* service at Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust will support St Albans.

Dr Geraldine O’Sullivan, Hertfordshire and West Essex Sustainability and Transformation Partnership (STP) clinical lead for mental health said:

"The announcement of these two additional teams is great news for children, parents and carers for our area."

"Half of all lifetime cases of mental health disorders begin by the age of 14 and one in eight children experience a mental health problem.

“That’s why getting early help from someone who can identify children’s mental health issues and put in place the right support is vitally important.

“This is an important part of our plans to deliver a healthier future for our children and young people."

Staff for the new teams will be recruited from September and will work in schools and colleges to achieve the following:

• Support children and young people who are experiencing mild to moderate mental health issues

• Help the senior mental health lead in each school or college to develop the support that they offer to the whole school community

• Give timely advice to school and college staff, liaising with external specialist services to help children and young people to get the right support and stay in education

Mental health support teams are a new workforce which includes education mental health practitioners, higher level therapists or senior staff, a team manager and administrative support.

The teams are exploring ways of delivering care and advice for young people’s mental health in the familiar environment of their school or college.

Other outcomes the teams also aim to achieve include encouraging students to seek out getting mental health help as ‘normal’ as a visit to a first-aider.

Strengthening the links between education and health services should also help to minimise delays for children and young people who need help.

Anyone who may be struggling with issues like anxiety about friendships or family pressures can be supported, alongside friends and family members.

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