One of East Anglia’s leading experts on young people’s mental health is welcoming the start of recruitment to a new workforce that will enhance the support given to the mental health needs of children and young people in educational settings.
Dr Beth Mosley, lead clinical psychologist with the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT), has been pioneering a whole-school approach to mental health over the past four years. She has been working with a team of five at four schools in west Suffolk, in a project funded by NHS West Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group, supporting the wellbeing of around 4300 students and 400 staff members.
Now, following the announcement earlier this year of an extra £2 million national funding for the integrated care system across Suffolk and north east Essex, Dr Mosley is delighted that this type of approach will benefit more young people and staff in schools. Three new Mental Health Support Teams (MHST) will work across schools in east and west Suffolk and north east Essex supporting the wellbeing of more than 24,000 students in around 64 schools - 14 schools across Tendring and Colchester, 27 schools across west Suffolk and 23 schools across east Suffolk.
The new teams, due to be in place by January 2020, will comprise senior clinicians, higher level therapists and Education Mental Health Practitioners offering expert support on issues including low self-esteem, anxiety, depression and eating disorders as well as training staff in identifying issues and how they can be best addressed. The teams of Education Mental Health Practitioners will also be supported with training on a new course to be delivered by the University of East Anglia.
In Suffolk sixteen new team members will be employed by NSFT, including eight trainee education mental health practitioners. In north east Essex the team will be employed by Colchester MIND.
Dr Beth Mosley, says “This is an amazing opportunity to work alongside education to support young people and their families with their mental health. The expansion of this work allows us to work more closely with primary and secondary schools. Investing in supporting children, especially the most vulnerable, their teachers and parents in these early years is critical to preparing young people for the challenges of life.
“Promoting positive mental health and giving young people opportunities to learn about how they can stay mentally healthy, as well as knowing what to do if they are worried about themselves or a friend, is something schools are working hard on. Being able to further support them with this, as well as provide evidence-based interventions for children in schools when there are concerns will support young people and their families getting the right help at the right time.”
Dr Ed Garratt, chief officer for NHS Ipswich and East Suffolk, NHS West Suffolk and NHS North East Essex clinical commissioning groups, said: "It is fantastic that recruitment has now begun and I am very much looking forward to seeing extra support being available to our young people.
"Dr Mosley has been doing some great work in west Suffolk. She and her team have really helped many young people and their families, as well as the school staff, with wellbeing issues, and seeing the expansion of this whole-school approach is certainly pleasing.
"I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Jo Churchill for her leadership and support in the development of this whole school approach and her commitment to wellbeing support for young people."
Jo Churchill, MP for Bury St Edmunds, said: “Providing our young people with the knowledge and support they need to maintain positive mental health is crucial, to ensuring every child can get the most out of their education and reach their individual potential.
"It is fantastic that recruitment has started for the new Mental Health Support Teams. Broadening the whole-school approach to mental health support, one I have championed since the beginning, in further schools across our community. Leading to a positive impact on the lives of more young people and their families and helping them get the help they need when they need it.”
Case Study – Bethan Rees
“I am autistic, and I struggled in the last few years of mainstream education, especially around the start of Year 11. I started experiencing more stress as I struggled with schoolwork, fear of exams/failure, bullying, and an increased number of fire alarm setoffs (a sensory trigger). This put me in a bad place mentally and I was constantly breaking down and having to leave the classroom. This is where Dr Mosley, our school's clinical psychologist, came in. She'd just started at Thurston at the time, and I was referred to her by a teacher. She worked with my parents and I to help us understand what was happening and why I was feeling this way, and helped liaise with other teachers to support me. I was then able to get through the rest of the academic year, and passed all of my GCSEs really strongly.
“Dr Mosley continued to be around if I needed her, and supported me a lot with my autism ambassador work within school, providing me with many amazing opportunities. Then, in Year 13, I needed her help again. I'd applied to go overseas with a gap year organisation, who then rejected me because they felt they "couldn't support me". This absolutely broke me. My confidence dropped, and my mum emailed Dr Mosley to help. The next day, she spotted me and spoke to me about it, letting me cry while she spoke about how it must feel. She totally understood. During this period of time, I had a lot of lows, and whenever I felt like I needed to see her I just simply sent her an email and we organised something.
“I've come such a long way after these lows, and I'm so grateful for Dr Mosley's support. Now, I'm working with her as a part of my campaign - Discuss Disability - as a part of Scope's Scope For Change programme. With this, I want to encourage schools to educate students about disability, and I know that Dr Mosley's support will be instrumental in getting things started.
“I'm so happy that more psychologists will be trained to work in schools. Students and staff are under so much pressure under the current education system, and it shows. So many more young people are developing mental health conditions. Autistic people like me are also more likely to develop a mental health condition! Having this support in schools will undoubtedly help so many students from so many different backgrounds. This is incredibly important and I hope it works out.”
Links to job vacancies:
Trainee Education Mental Health Practitioner Ipswich HERE
Trainee Education Mental Health Practitioner Bury St Edmunds HERE
These developments are part of the NHS Long Term Plan which commits to ensuring that an extra 345,000 children aged 0-25 will receive mental health support by 2023/24. The MHSTs are part of this commitment and the national programme involves rolling out teams to at least 25% of the country by the end of 2023. As part of this plan there is a recognition for the need for a new workforce. The new Education Mental Health Practitioner role is just this. For the seven MHSTs across Suffolk, Norfolk, Cambridgeshire and North East Essex the training programme for this post starts with the UEA in January 2020. It is 12 months in duration and will consist of academic and supervised practice learning within the MHSTs working in educational settings, such as primary and secondary schools, and further education colleges. On successful completion of training the newly qualified Education Mental Health Practitioner will continue to be employed and work in the MHST.
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