As children and young people make their return to school after almost a year of home-schooling, the local NHS are introducing two Mental Health Support Teams (MHST) to support pupils in Hull with their mental health and wellbeing.
The new service, which is being delivered in partnership between NHS Hull Clinical Commissioning Group, Humber Teaching NHS Foundation Trust and Hull City Council, will see mental health professionals integrate within schools and colleges to provide early intervention mental health support for children and young people aged 5-18. This is part of a national NHS England programme which aims to roll out MHSTs to between one-fifth and a quarter of the country by the end of 2023.
Dr Amy Oehring, local GP and Member of Hull Children, Young People and Families Board, said: “I’m so pleased that we will soon be able to offer this service to children and young people in Hull. This is even more important now as we know some of our young people in Hull have found Covid-19 restrictions really difficult and, sadly, in many cases it has had a negative effect on their mental wellbeing.”
The NHS are currently supporting schools, colleges, parents and pupils to fully design the service, ensuring it reflects their needs and works to suit those who will be accessing it. As part of this process, people are taking part in virtual focus groups, completing online workbooks and will be giving feedback on every element of the service along the way. There is also a direct focus to work with individuals representing vulnerable groups, including LGBT, minority ethnic groups and those with disabilities.
The teams in Hull will be made up of two Senior Practitioners and four Education Mental Health Practitioners (EMHPs), as well as being supported by professional and clinical leadership. They will work across education, health and care and, in collaboration with existing services (e.g., HeadStart Hull), will support schools and colleges to identify and manage issues relating to mental health and wellbeing, as well as delivering high quality evidence-based interventions for children, young people and families who experience mild to moderate needs, and requesting specialist support as necessary.
As part of this pilot, eight local schools have been selected to host an EMHP for a placement year during their initial training. A further 26 schools will have access to MHST Senior Practitioners who bring a wide range of experience to support schools with consultation, advice, guidance and will work with schools on their whole school’s approach to mental health. Once fully operational, in Spring 2022, the service will support all 34 schools equally.
Emma Train-Sullivan, Mental Health Support Team Service Lead, Humber Teaching NHS Foundation Trust, has been working with schools and colleges to develop the service. She said: “Though we will not be fully operational until next year, we will be supporting schools and their pupils later this year. The fantastic response we have had so far from schools and colleges has been incredible and it’s clear how important mental health and wellbeing is to many of the schools in Hull.”
Pauline Turner, Director of Children’s Services, Hull City Council, said: “The introduction of this new service comes at such a pinnacle moment as children and young people’s mental wellbeing is at the forefront of conversation up and down the country. Many have experienced a very confusing and challenging year and to be able to provide some concrete support for young people in Hull is fantastic.”