Headlines: January 25th, 2008

Twenty-five local authorities are to pilot a scheme to give better support to children whose mental health is at risk. The councils will take part in the Targeted Mental Health in Schools project and try new ways of improving services to vulnerable pupils.

Each of the selected local authorities and its corresponding Primary Care Trust will work with between three and six secondary schools and their feeder and linked primary schools to provide improved support for children who already have mental health problems or who are seen to be at risk of suffering in the future.

Kevin Brennan, the Minister for Young People, has congratulated all the authorities taking part. They are Blackburn with Darwen, Blackpool, Brighton and Hove, Bury, Cornwall , Coventry , Gateshead, Gloucestershire , Kent , Leeds, Leicester, Lincolnshire , Luton, Norfolk , North East Lincolnshire, Northumberland, Reading , Shropshire, Suffolk , Sunderland, Swindon, Wolverhampton and the London boroughs of Hackney, Merton and Southwark. Funding will be available to them from the 60 million pounds already announced to promote mental wellbeing in schools.

Mr. Brennan said, “Each pilot will be implementing innovative ways to ensure a better service to some of their most vulnerable children and families and their success will inform the national roll-out of this project.” They will access the funding to put more practitioners in place, including learning mentors and family support workers and staff with mental health expertise. They will also work with voluntary sector providers of support in and close to schools and develop training and support for practitioners.

Each of the pathfinders will employ a project manager. All the schools involved have chosen to take part and they will work on ways to bring together professionals and relevant services to create an holistic approach to help and support. More guidance for schools about therapeutic interventions will be made available in the near future.