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Schools across West Country to get more access to mental health support

More pupils across Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire will have access to specially trained mental health practitioners in the future thanks to funding for a new programme.

Wiltshire Council, Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group and Bath and North East Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group successfully bid for funding to be part of NHS England’s Mental Health Support Team (MHST) Trailblazer programme.

The programme is already being implemented in Swindon and has been successfully rolled out in a number of other areas across the country.

Now pupils across BANES and Wiltshire will benefit from the second wave once the scheme starts in January 2020.

The scheme will see MHSTs working directly in selected schools and colleges across the region by providing on-site access to early mental health support.

The teams will provide early intervention for mild to moderate mental health issues, such as exam stress, low mood or friendship difficulties as well as providing support to staff.

They will also act as a link with local specialist children and young people’s mental health services ensuring, if appropriate, that pupils can access more intensive support.

The funding for the scheme comes as recent public engagement driven by local health and care organisations has found that young people would prioritise better and faster access to mental health services.

One in nine young people aged 5 to 15 had a diagnosable mental health condition in 2017 and teenagers with a mental health disorder are more than twice as likely to have a mental disorder in adulthood.

The package of measures is part of the Government’s plan to improve mental health support for children and young people, including identifying mental health issues before they become more acute.

Wiltshire Council Cabinet member for children, Pauline Church said: “Now more than ever young people are under pressure, stress and social anxiety can cause real problems which affect their wellbeing and mental health”.

“We know there is some excellent support out there already.

"This Trailblazer programme will build on that and provide even more support, earlier and where young people tell us that they want to receive it – in schools.

"The programme will help young people to improve their emotional health and wellbeing and get back on track.

Lucy Baker, Acting Commissioning Director for Maternity, Children and Mental Health at Wiltshire CCG said: “It’s fantastic news that we’ve received funding for this important scheme.

"We know children, young people, their parents, supporters and carers want to be able to access mental health services quickly and easily and the Trailblazer scheme is a significant step forward in enabling that to happen.”

Dr David Soodeen, Clinical Director for the South West Mental Health Clinical Network, said: “The process of growing up can lead to a number of issues which can impact upon the mental health of children and young people - exam stress, behavioural difficulties or friendship issues to name just a few.

"We believe that if intervention can take place early on, it may help stop worries becoming much bigger mental health issues.

“By putting mental health support teams in to schools and colleges, the Trailblazer programme offers a really exciting opportunity to work differently with young people, supporting their mental health needs at an earlier stage and in a familiar setting."

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