Trailblazer mental health care scheme to benefit children in Buckinghamshire

Around 16,000 children and young people in Buckinghamshire are set to benefit from a new ‘Trailblazer’ scheme to transform children’s mental health care and ensure those in need get the right support at the right time.

The county is one of 25 areas across the country so far to receive Government funding for this new initiative, equating to £2 million over a two-year period.

NHS Buckinghamshire Clinical Commissioning Group is working alongside Buckinghamshire County Council and Buckinghamshire Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) run by Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust in the county, to create two dedicated ‘Mental Health Support Teams’. These will work closely with 40 schools (both primary and secondary) and colleges, making support available to around 16,000 pupils. Schools from across the county were invited to apply to take part in the scheme last year.

These Mental Health Support Teams will be made up of a range of health and care professionals who can respond to mental health concerns pupils may experience. They will build on support already in place from Buckinghamshire Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service, school counsellors, nurses, educational psychologists and the voluntary sector, to offer timely assessments and interventions for pupils in need, treating those with mild to moderate mental health issues in school. If pupils have more severe need, the teams can link smoothly to specialist NHS services at Buckinghamshire CAMHS and ensure they get the right support and treatment as quickly as possible.

Schools or colleges taking part will have their own senior mental health lead among their staff. These will work closely with the Mental Health Support Teams, alerting them to health concerns or symptoms among pupils, and helping to ensure a ‘whole school’ approach to mental health. Training for these mental health lead roles will be funded and led by NHS England and the Department for Education and is planned to begin in early to mid-2019. Eventually all schools across the county will be able to access this training, not just those taking part in this initiative. The scheme will also fund more child psychologists for Buckinghamshire, helping to ensure young people with more severe need receive treatment as quickly as possible.

The Trailblazer scheme is intended to be rolled out and fully operational in Buckinghamshire over 2019/20. It is hoped the plan will be developed further in the future, allowing more schools in the county to become involved.

Vivek Khosla, Clinical Director at Buckinghamshire Mental Health Services, run by Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust, said:“This is great news for children and young people, teachers and parents who will now be able to get advice and help at an earlier stage. We know that the earlier mental health problems are identified the better the health outcomes for children and young people. Timely, early care is something we’ve all been working towards to address the important and growing area of mental healthcare need.”

Dr Sian Roberts, Mental Health and Learning Disability Clinical Director for NHS Buckinghamshire Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “Children and young people face enormous pressure in their lives nowadays, and the more we can do to support their mental and emotional wellbeing at the earliest possible stage, the more we can do to help them stay healthy and well throughout their lives.

“This new initiative is very exciting, and will make a huge difference to the lives of young people across Buckinghamshire. By strengthening the links between schools and mental health services we can ensure children, parents and teachers know how and when to access vital support at the right time for young people with mental health concerns.”

One in nine young people aged five to 15 had a mental health condition in 2017 and teenagers with a mental health disorder are more than two and a half times more likely to have a mental health disorder in adulthood. The Trailblazer scheme forms part of the Government’s plans to transform children and young people’s mental health through the NHS Long-Term Plan.