More cash has been granted for mental health support teams in schools in Brighton and Hove and the surrounding areas.
The £4.4 million award to health chiefs across Sussex from NHS England was one of three recent grants which are expected to support better mental health and wellbeing.
The funding will support six mental health support teams in schools across Sussex, with just under £2.2 million budgeted in the current financial year and just over £2.2 million budgeted in 2020-21.
Brighton and Hove has been in the vanguard of providing better support in schools. All local secondary schools have a primary mental health worker and the scheme has been extended to primary schools.
This has happened as awareness grows of mental health and wellbeing, particularly in children and young people.
At the same time there has been criticism nationally and locally about the level of mental health care available and how long it can take for children to be assessed and treated.
A report by Brighton and Hove Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) chief executive Adam Doyle said: “The mental health support teams provide a targeted approach to support vulnerable children and young people, delivering evidence-based interventions, providing advice and support to schools and working as part of an integrated referral system with community services to ensure that children and young people who need it receive appropriate support as quickly as possible.
“The teams will complement and enhance existing provision and form an important element of delivering on the ‘Transforming children and young people’s mental health provision’ green paper.”
The second grant is worth £9 million over five years, with an extra £5 million to be provided by NHS trusts, councils and universities.
The money – awarded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) – will be spent on improving health and social care research across Kent, Surrey and Sussex.
The applied research is to be co-ordinated by the Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust – the mental health trust serving Brighton and Hove.
Mr Doyle said that it was “designed to ensure the learning from research is used more quickly and systematically to improve patient care”.
He said: “The collaboration will help address particular challenges in Kent, Surrey and Sussex, including
- Many of our coastal towns which are among the most socially deprived areas in England, with high unemployment and high levels of health and social care need
- Higher than average children in care, unaccompanied asylum-seeking children and young people with self-harm and emotional problems
- A growing older population with the highest concentration of people with dementia in the UK
“We will work to improve research in areas such as social care, the mental health and wellbeing of children and adolescents, supporting people with dementia – particularly those with other health and social care needs as well – and working to improve primary and community services across the region.”
The third grant has been awarded by the Department for Education to improve mental health and wellbeing assessments for children entering care.
Brighton and Hove is one of nine pilot areas, sharing £850,000 to respond to concerns that too many assessments focused on symptoms “on the day” rather than looking more widely at children’s mental health and wellbeing’s needs.
Mr Doyle said: “Brighton and Hove has been selected to be one of nine pilot sites across the country working with the Anna Freud Centre to develop new mental health and wellbeing assessments for children entering care.
“This is a two-year pilot sponsored by the Department for Education and commenced in June 2019.
“A new assessment framework will be developed and implemented, with the child or young person at the heart of these assessments.
“The approach will be more relational, include the young person’s carer and bring together views of those around the child.
“The aim is to increase awareness of the level of the young person’s mental health needs and create a shared understanding of these needs across the important people in the child’s network.”
Dez Holmes, director of a social care research organisation called Research in Practice, said: “The calibre of applications received showed local areas are making great strides towards improving the mental health assessments for children entering care through innovative practices (and) partnership working as well as a strong operational and strategic commitment to improving the lives and outcomes of children and young people.
“Areas selected for this project demonstrated a high level of expertise and commitment to innovation and we are delighted to be working with them on this important project.
“As the consortium starts working with the selected sites, we look forward to sharing the learning from the pilot with colleagues nationally.”
The Brighton and Hove CCG’s deputy chief operating officer Karen Breen said that it was quite an accolade and reflected considerable local expertise.