Fourteen schools in Gloucestershire are to benefit from £85k funding that will see them work together with local health services to improve children’s mental health.

NHS Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) worked with partners including Gloucestershire County Council (GCC) and 2gether NHS Foundation Trust (2g) to submit the county’s case to government in a bid to secure funding which will focus on more joined up working between schools and children’s mental health services. It will mean schools get better support around children’s mental health and easier access to local, specialist mental health services where appropriate.

Out of the 80 bids submitted from across the country, Gloucestershire’s was one of 22 which were successful. The CCG has invested an additional £50k in the project which will be piloted in 14 schools in the Stroud and Berkeley Vale area. The results will then be used to plan how to roll out new ways of working across the whole county.

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

“We are delighted to be part of this initiative which will see schools engage with mental health services to improve the care and experience we can offer to young people with mental health problems.

Schools already provide excellent counselling and early intervention services, but with new challenges such as social media and the changing world of work, we need more.

We hope to complement and extend the schools’ existing services, and ensure that children, parents and teachers know where to turn and how to access support for young people when they need it.”

This initiative is part of a bigger national government vision, Future in Mind, which aims to transform support and services for child and adolescent mental health over the next five years.

Local areas were required to produce a five year transformation plan outlining how they intend to improve outcomes for young people. The Gloucestershire Future in Mind plan, co-produced with children, young people, their families, service providers, commissioning partners and key stakeholders, was submitted to NHS England in October and has been commended for its level of ambition.

The plan recognises that resilience and good mental health are important for children, to help them fulfil their potential as they grow older. Over the next five years, services will work together to ensure that children with mental health issues are identified earlier, and that joined up systems offer easier access to information, advice and support in a variety of ways.

To help deliver the plan, the CCG has invited grant applications from local voluntary organisations to help provide personal, evidence-based interventions for children and young people with mild to moderate mental health needs, such as counselling. This specific project, which will run until March 2017, will involve the CCG working in partnership with mental health services, schools and voluntary and community organisations to increase access to support for young people when problems are emerging. It will be evaluated so that the new ways of working can then be rolled out across the whole county.

Sarah Batten, Service Director for 2gether NHS Foundation Trust’s Children and Young People’s Service, said:

“We are very pleased to be part of the Schools Pilot taking place in the Stroud locality. It is vitally important that the right advice and support is available in schools. We know that more than two out of ten school age children experience emotional distress or psychological upset during their school career.

This new project builds on our excellent relationships across the organisations. We will see easier access to mental health information and advice for front line staff in education. We are very much looking forward to being part of this pilot initiative, with a focus on early help, which will test new ways of working with the aim of improving outcomes for children and young people.”

Cllr Paul McLain, cabinet member for children and young people at Gloucestershire County Council, said:

“It’s fantastic that Gloucestershire has been selected for the additional funding from the Government.

“We want our county’s young people to know that there are safe and confidential ways to talk about how they feel, with people who understand and know how to help.

“This will help to build on the work already being done in our schools, to help young people access support for any mental health issues they might be experiencing.”