Swindon Clinical Commissioning Group has been selected as one of just a few sites nationwide to implement proposals for new mental health support teams in schools, as set out in the recent Children and Young People Mental Health Green Paper.

The CCG has been awarded £2.3 million to deliver on this until 2020/21.

Claire Murdoch, National Mental Health Director at NHS England, told the CCG: “We have been very pleased to see that your enthusiasm was matched by a high standard in your proposals to build on your current plans for transformation and to further improve outcomes for children and young people with mental health issues.”

Esther Schmidt, Children’s Commissioning Lead, said: “This is a very exciting opportunity to develop a new approach for children and young people from as young as four.

“We will be designing our new offer with children and young people to make sure the new teams are fit for purpose.

“Children and young people will be instrumental in recruiting the staff members they feel comfortable talking to.”

Gill May, Director of Nursing and Transformation, added: “This is an exciting opportunity to shift the focus on high quality early intervention for children, young people and their families.

“We look forward to being one of the seven national trailblazer regions to implement the Children and Young People Mental Health Green Paper.

“This will enable us to work with partner organisations to provide equitable, improved access to services and improved outcomes for our children and young people.”

Councillor Brian Ford, Swindon Borough Council’s Mental Health Champion, said: “This is tremendous news for Swindon and I am pleased the government has recognised the work we are already doing in tackling mental health by putting us among a select group of local areas that will be leading the way in this field.

“This funding will allow us to work more closely with those children that need access to mental health support services and I’m sure it will make a tremendous difference to their lives.”

As a trailblazer region, Swindon will be expected to develop two proposals of the Department of Health and Social Care’s Transforming Children and Young People’s Mental Health Green Paper to:

  • Create new mental health support teams to support children and young people in and near their schools
  • Train designated mental health leads in schools and colleges.

Applications for wellbeing practitioners are being progressed through the University of Exeter (courses will run in Bristol).

The training is fully funded by Health Education England.

Swindon CCG will be appointing staff via NHS Jobs from December 2018.

The model has been developed with the involvement of 25 professionals from the voluntary sector, schools, the CCG and the borough council, including the virtual school team, designated health professionals for children looked after, mental health commissioners and strategy leads.

Councillor Mary Martin, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Children and School Attainment, said: “Gaining £2.3m extra to pilot specialist support teams and designated mental health leads in our schools and colleges is an extremely positive development.

“I’m particularly interested in promoting mental health and wellness in teenagers.

“No-one can argue that the teenage years are becoming more stressful with exam pressures and the good and bad impacts of social media.”