School children in Gloucestershire are set to benefit from £5m funding which will see specialist mental health support in schools and waiting times for other mental health services improve.

NHS Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group worked with partners 2gether NHS Foundation Trust, Gloucestershire County Council and local charity TIC+ to submit the county’s bid to secure funding and is one of only a handful of areas in the country to be successful.

The funding will be used to set up four Mental Health Support Teams in a number of schools across the county, including primary, secondary, special schools and other settings.

The teams will be staffed by a combination of experienced, qualified counsellors working alongside NHS staff; the balance of skills, experience and training within the teams will be flexible in order to meet the specific needs of the children in each type of school.

The teams will focus on improving the resilience of students in schools, providing early support to prevent issues from escalating. They will also identify children and young people who need more specialist help and ensure they receive the support they need.

Some funds will also be put towards reducing the length of time young people wait for treatment, following a referral to specialist mental health services.

Dr Jeremy Welch, GP in Tewkesbury and Clinical Lead for Children and Young People’s Services at NHS Gloucestershire CCG, said:

“Making things better for children and young people with mental health problems is one of our top priorities.

We have talked to young people a lot over the past few years, and it is really important that young people can find the support they need to help them cope when things are tough.

The new teams will work within schools to identify children who need emotional support and ensure that they receive this. They will also work with staff and parents to give them the skills they need to deal with mental health issues.”

John Campbell, Director of Service Delivery for 2gether NHS Foundation Trust, said:

“Obtaining Trailblazer status is fantastic news for children, young people and families across Gloucestershire.

We know that two thirds of mental health issues can be identified by age 14 and therefore early intervention and prevention is vital. This funding will help further develop multi-agency approaches with schools to provide this support and to further improve access to treatment when needed.”

Cllr Richard Boyles, Cabinet Member for Children & Young People, Gloucestershire County Council said:

“Gloucestershire County Council is committed to promoting better understanding and awareness of mental health. We are delighted to secure additional funding which will enable young people and their families to access mental health support. Making this support easily available through school at times when it is needed most, working together with school staff and families, will help our young people to learn and succeed.”

Judith Bell, Director of Counselling Services at TIC+, said:

“This is such good news! We know that early intervention works and makes a real difference to the lives of children and young people both now and in the future. We are delighted to be partnering with our NHS and County Council colleagues in the delivery of this project.”

Schools will be selected over the coming months, and recruitment to the Mental Health Support Teams will take place over the next year. The teams will be fully operational by December 2019.