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Young Minds Matter – Gloucestershire Trailblazer Programme, Mental Health Support Teams

Young people told us that the term Mental Health Support Teams did not resonate with them and therefore Gloucestershire has renamed this programme ‘Young Minds Matter’

Further engagement with a range of young people and parents, helped us to test some assumptions about how the programme would run including informing GP’s and parents when a young person had accessed the service. Young people told us they did not want GPs to be informed as they felt that low to moderate support around things such as exam stress did not need to be medically document and many felt this could be more damaging than helpful.

Background to project

The Green Paper, published in December 2017, detailed proposals for expanding access to mental health care for children and young people by providing additional support through schools and colleges and reducing waiting times for treatment. The new services are expected to be rolled out to between a third and a fifth of the country by 2023-24, with further improvements for children and young people’s services promised in the NHS long-term plan.

To become a Trailblazer, Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG) had to meet three criteria; demonstrate robust data collection in order to measure how they are performing against the four hour target pilot and the impact of the Mental Health Support Teams (MHSTs) on NHS referrals, meet the expected levels of investment in mental health and demonstrate progress in increasing access to Children and Young People’s (CYP) mental health services. Gloucestershire were invited to submit an expression of interest and subsequent bid in October 2018.

In December 2018, the Government announced 25 Trailblazer sites, of which Gloucestershire was successful in securing five million pounds funding up until 2021. This funding will support the implementation of four Mental Health Support Teams (MHSTs) in Gloucestershire to develop models of early intervention on mild to moderate mental health issues, such as exam stress, behavioural difficulties or friendship issues, as well as providing help to staff within a school and college setting. Gloucestershire is one of only two areas nationally that will be implementing as many as 4 MHSTs.

 

Engagement

Early on in the planning stages for our Mental Health Support Teams, we identified a need to engage with young people and parents earlier rather than later, so that their feedback could influence the entry pathway into teams, how teams are promoted within schools and how parents access help for both their child and for themselves to better support their child.

We therefore ran a series of focus groups with our ‘early adopter’ schools with children and parents/carers in both Primary and Secondary schools. The output of this was presented at key workshops over the Summer and supported initiatives such as self-referral.

During the focus groups, we took the opportunity to ask young people and parents about the look and feel of the service and it became apparent that the national terminology ‘Mental Health Support Team’ was not appealing and young people could not resonate with it. We therefore ran a survey with the most popular six different suggestions for team names, including the original name, and shared this with staff and students for their feedback.

We received 367 responses from students, staff or groups of students from every year group between Year 1 – Year 12. We did not receive any responses from a Reception year group.

The results show a clear favourite and the workstream therefore recommended re-naming the Mental Health Support Teams element of the programme Young Minds Matter.

We are also used the feedback from young people and staff to inform the branding; they liked bright colours, ombre or changing colours, hand written text, nothing too obvious or associated with mental health eg. brains.

 

Learning and Outcomes

Within the programme, we had made some assumptions based on current services eg. informing GPs or parents that a young person had received support. From our engagement with a range of young people and parents, it became apparent that they did not want GPs to be informed. They felt that low to moderate support around things such as exam stress did not need to be medically document and many felt this could be more damaging than helpful. Furthermore, parents were fully supportive of not being informed, unless life threatening, if their child had reached out for support from the mental health support team. This was extremely encouraging and gave us the ability to offer a service which empowers young people and provides them with a confidential service. It was therefore critical to engage with young people and parents during the planning phases as this gave us the ability to respond to their needs.

 

Next steps

We continue to implement the Mental Health Support Teams within Schools in Gloucestershire in a phased approach. During the programme, we are actively collecting feedback to influence a local and national evaluation of the programme. We will be re-running focus groups to look at team resources, promotion of the teams and develop this further with young people so that it is appealing and fit for purpose. Mental Health continues to be a stigmatised topic amongst young people and whilst we are keen to challenge this, we also want to provide service that is discreet enough for young people to feel comfortable and at ease accessing help and support. We know that as the programme continues, digital developments will become available such as video calls with professionals, online text chat or peer support or even development of a local self-help app, therefore we want to be able to work with young people to maximise any opportunity within this field to respond to their needs.

 

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