New children and youth mental health support

Wednesday 22 January 2020

Tomorrow (Thursday 23 January), NHS Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) launches a new scheme to improve mental health support for children and young people in the county.

Northumberland CCG is one of only 12 CCGs in the country to be awarded funding for the national ‘trailblazer’ pilot schemes focusing on mental health support teams in schools and reducing waiting times.

The mental health support teams, which are being trialled in Blyth and Hexham, aim to support children with mild to moderate mental health needs. This will make it easier to access help at an earlier stage, before problems develop to a higher level that might need support from secondary care mental health services.

In order to highlight this work, the CCG is holding two events to launch the new mental health support teams, which have been named ‘Be You’ by young people in Northumberland.

Parents and carers of young people are welcome to attend either of the drop-in style events. The first is taking place tomorrow (Thursday 23 January) at Headway Arts in Blyth and the second is at The Mart in Hexham on Thursday 30 January. Both events will run from 12 noon until 6pm and people can come at any time to speak to the services involved in the Trailblazer project and find out more.

Helen Bowyer, children and young people’s operational commissioning manager at the CCG, said: “We know there is a real need to support our young people, at an early stage, before problems escalate into more serious issues which is why we are so pleased to be launching our new ‘Be You’ mental health initiative.

“The aim of Be You is to make sure that when needed, children and young people have access to the right support at the right time and adopt new early intervention and prevention techniques to help build their resilience.”

The Trailblazer pilot, which is being delivered in partnership with Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust and Northumberland County Council is also working towards reducing waiting times. By December this year, all of the county’s mental health services will be able to see children and young people within four weeks of referral.

Helen added: “We have a clear and shared vision to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health in the county and want young people to know it’s ok to ask for help and support when they need it.

“There is a real pressure on young people these days, for all sorts of reasons, and it is important we have this support network in place for them to thrive in every aspect of their lives.”

The CCG’s four week wait to treatment scheme has recently received praise from NHS England and NHS Improvement and is being hailed as a national example of best practice due to its culture, relationships and collaborative working.

Following a comprehensive audit from NHS England and NHS Improvement, the scheme has demonstrated it is far exceeding many in other areas and its waiting times are among some of the lowest in the country.

The audit, which involved speaking to young people who have accessed the system at various points, as well as clinical and operational staff, commissioners and key stakeholders found that Northumberland is leading the way nationally in terms of its responsive access processes and its collaborative system-wide approach.

Helen added: “It’s fantastic to share such excellent news. This is an outstandingly positive response we have received and is a clear endorsement of the shared vision and collaborative work from all organisations involved that has gone into transforming mental health services in Northumberland over the last couple of years.

“We know there is a real need to support our young people, at an early stage, before problems escalate into more serious issues and we are so pleased to see we are making a real difference.

“Although this audit has given us high praise, we know there are a number of recommendations which we still need to build upon. However, we feel we are in a strong position going forward.”

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