A team of mental health support specialists is to be established in Liverpool schools after the city secured almost £2.5 million from the Government.
Liverpool was named as one of 25 ‘trailblazer’ areas by the Department of Health just before Christmas, and now a report to the council’s Cabinet is outlining more details of the scheme.
The city council will work with Liverpool’s Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), Liverpool CAMHS Partnership, YPAS (Young Peoples Advisory Service) and local schools to transform children’s mental health care.
Three area-based teams will be established to support 120 primary, 33 secondary and 12 special schools, as well as 22 alternative education providers and Liverpool Community College.
They will build on existing support from school counsellors, nurses and educational psychologists and the voluntary sector.
Cabinet member for children’s social care, Cllr Barry Kushner, said: “It is obviously good to get any additional resources from Government, and particularly for children’s mental health.
“The increase in the numbers of children as young as seven with mental ill health is putting increasing pressure on schools, early help and specialist services.
“We will work with our partners to build up our early help offer with the aim of stopping problems becoming crises.
“This is an area of work which needs to be a funding priority for the Government and I hope more opportunities to secure money will be made available in the future.”
Overall, the number of school pupils with social, emotional and mental health needs in Liverpool increased from 1,833 to 2,139 from 2015-2017 – around three percent of the school population, and significantly higher than the national average.
Liverpool has recently launched a number of new initiatives to tackle the issue, including mental health first aid champions in every secondary school, a mental health course developed for primary schools, dedicated sessions from specialists and the creation of a mental health toolkit.
Dr Fiona Lemmens, a Liverpool GP and Chair for NHS Liverpool Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said:
“We know that there is an increasing demand for the provision of mental health services for children and young people across Liverpool.
“The additional capacity and funding that this will bring to the city will help us to work closely with our partners in the local authority and education to ensure that children, young people, and their families, are able to access the mental health support they need at the earliest opportunity.”
The teams will directly treat children with mild to moderate mental health issues and provide access to NHS services for those with more severe needs.
The Department for Education is also funding training for senior mental health leads in schools and colleges, who will work closely with the Mental Health Support Teams to ensure children and young people get the right help as soon as possible.
Following recruitment and training, the aim is for the Mental Health Teams to be fully operational by December 2019.
The report will be considered by Cabinet on Friday 11 January.