Supporting mental health in schools

Oxford Health is letting parents know that our Mental Health Support Teams (MHSTs) are fully trained and ready to help youngsters as they return to school

Supporting mental health in schools

Our teams support children and young people with mild to moderate mental health and emotional wellbeing issues, such as anxiety, behavioural difficulties or friendship issues.

In primary schools, the MHSTs deal with anxiety support for parents to help their child and parenting support with behaviour; in secondary it is anxiety and low mood support with the young person.

And with new school conditions in place now for COVID-19, the teams are expecting more referrals from the schools they work in partnership with across  Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Wiltshire, Bath and North East Somerset, particularly around anxiety.

Debbie Richards, Oxford Health’s Managing Director of mental health and learning disability services, said: “We recognise that COVID has had a significant impact on many young people and their families. Through this important collaboration between our Mental Health Support Teams and schools, we can reach more young people with emotional and mental health concerns, providing support to them, as well as their families and teachers, at an early stage.”

Each MHST, of seven to eight individuals, made up of educational mental health practitioners (EMHPs), youth workers, family workers and peer support educators, can support up to 8,000 children and young people.

The MHSTs all have a simple objective: to bring together education and mental health professionals and strengthen existing provisions such as counselling, nurture groups and support from school nurses.

This early intervention can also link into more specialist children and young people’s mental health services ensuring, if appropriate, that pupils and students can access more intensive support.

One in eight young people aged five to 19 in England have a diagnosable mental health condition. It is estimated that half of all mental health problems manifest before the age of 14 years, with 25% enduring mental health conditions being present by the age of 24 years.

Oxfordshire MHSTs

In Oxfordshire, the service is currently co-delivered with Response Charity and Oxfordshire County Council, with four MHSTs supporting 12 secondary schools and 67 primaries (around 32,000 children.)

The two teams in Oxford, which were part of the initial ‘trailblazer’ support 35 schools, with the other two supporting 44 schools in the north of the county (Banbury/Bicester). They recently released podcasts and videos to support young people returning to school.

Buckinghamshire MHSTs

In Buckinghamshire, Oxford Health works in collaboration with Bucks County Council and Bucks Mind, with two MHSTs supporting 32 schools. The teams are based from Aylesbury and High Wycombe.

On the Bucks MHST website, there are a range of useful resources for parents with children experiencing anxiety. The Bucks youth workers have put together a powerful and uplifting video for young people experiencing difficulties managing their emotions.

Following on from positive feedback after running successful digital groups with parents of children experiencing anxiety, the Bucks team is planning another group based on the Incredible Years programme. This programme, which has shown evidence of effectiveness across diverse parenting populations, will be available for parents of children with behaviour difficulties such as ADHD and Autism.

BaNES, Swindon and Wiltshire MHSTs

Last year, Oxford Health was awarded £2m to support three further MHSTs in Bath, North East Somerset and Wiltshire (BSW). These are now going live in schools for the first time!

One Wiltshire team covers Salisbury and Devizes another one covers Trowbridge and Westbury. The third team works with schools across Bath and North East Somerset. Two more teams are planned for BSW by 2022, one delivered by Oxford Health and the other by Barnardo’s in Swindon.

To find out if your child is in an #MHST supported school, and to access the service, you can use a referral form on the Oxford Health website here:

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Published: 8 September 2020