Pilot scheme trials mental health champions in schools

Children will have a single point of contact if they are depressed or anxious

Mental health champions are to be piloted in schools in England.

Education secretary Nicky Morgan revealed children at 255 schools in 22 pilot areas will have a single point of contact for advice on issues including depression and anxiety. The mental health services and schools link pilots will receive £85,000 each to test the initiative.

A total of 27 clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) will work with around 10 schools each, using money provided by the Department for Education and NHS England.

The single point of contact in schools will be responsible for developing closer relationships with a counterpart in CAMHS – NHS child and adolescent mental health services. The aim is to improve knowledge and understanding of mental health problems, and to help ensure any referrals are timely and appropriate.

The champions will be evaluated nationally to understand the effect of joint working.

The lead CCGs for the project will be: Bedfordshire, Birmingham, Brighton and Hove, Camden, Chiltern, East and North Hertfordshire, East Riding of Yorkshire, Gloucestershire, Halton, Hammersmith and Fulham, Haringey, Salford, Sheffield, Somerset, South Cheshire, Sunderland, Tameside and Glossop, Tower Hamlets, Walsall, Waltham Forest, West Hampshire and Wigan.

NHS England’s national clinical director for children and young people Jackie Cornish said: ‘This is an opportunity for CCGs and schools to work together more closely, trial a new way of thinking and a new model.

‘Our aim is to improve significantly the care and experience we can offer children and young people with mental health problems.

‘We know if we can help young people at the earliest possible age we can gain the best possible outcome for them in the long run, and that is why we are focusing our attention to improve joint working with schools.’

The pilot comes out of the government’s Future in Mind report, which made a number of proposals on how mental health services could be improved, including for children and young people.

Read the full report here

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