Mental Health Schools Teams

Sent by NHS Thurrock CCG on behalf of Mid and South Essex Sustainability and Transformation Partnership (STP)


Earlier this year the Mid and South Essex Sustainability and Transformation Partnership (STP) submitted a bid to be one of the areas to benefit from extra funding to establish three Mental Health Support Teams in education settings. Our region is one of the successful bidders and will begin to see the roll out of the new teams in our area by the end of 2020, as detailed in the timeline below.

This is an exciting opportunity to provide extra support to children and young people in Mid and South Essex, and we are likely to see much interest from members of the public. Listeners to BBC Radio Essex and Heart may have already heard the coverage that the announcement has gathered in the local media.

Although we are still in the very early stages, we wanted to take this opportunity to provide you with an update on our progress so far and on the work that will be taking place in the future.

Background Context

In 2017 the Government published its Green Paper for transforming children and young people’s mental health. One of the recommended actions identified in the Green Paper was the establishment of Mental Health Support Teams (MHST). These teams were envisioned to provide early intervention on mild and moderate mental health and emotional wellbeing issues such as low mood and anxiety.

NHS England announced in December 2018 that it would provide extra funding to establish MHSTs in 25 trailblazer areas. The MHSTs in these areas are expected to begin work by the end of 2019. In July 2019 a further 57 trailblazer sites were confirmed, including the bid from Mid and South Essex STP, with MHSTs in those areas to begin by September 2020. As a national programme we will respond positively to any further opportunities to bid for more MHSTs across the STP.

There is recognition that in the past mental health has not received the same attention as physical health, yet mental health is critical to wellbeing. Mental health conditions are on the rise across the country with one in ten children and young people (around 850,000) now having a diagnosable mental health condition. These conditions can have a devastating impact on physical health, relationships and future prospects and these challenges often extend into adulthood, with half of all mental health conditions beginning before the age of 14.

Mental Health Support Teams will work alongside existing services in schools and the community to support children and young people with moderate mental health and emotional wellbeing issues such as anxiety, behavioural difficulties or friendship issues. They will provide interventions using the principles of cognitive behavioural therapy and self-help guidance while supporting existing mental health services in school. Where appropriate they will also act as a bridge between schools and more specialist mental health services in cases of more severe mental health needs.

Mental Health Support Teams (MHST) in Mid and South Essex

After the notification of Mid and South Essex STP’s successful bid, the work to establish the teams begun at pace. NELFT will be the provider organisation that will host the three MHST in the region and they have already begun the recruitment process for the Educational Mental Health Practitioners. Over the next year we will engage with children and young people, schools and colleges so that we can establish how the MHSTs can best support their needs before the teams go live in September 2020.

In total there will be three Mental Health Support Teams in Mid and South Essex. The school teams will work with between 8 and 15 schools with one team being based in Thurrock and the other in Southend. The third team will be embedded in Chelmsford College and South Essex College. Each team will be comprised of approximately 6-7 team members:

  • High level therapist – A senior level therapist to supervise more complex cases, support the whole team, and also train as supervisors to the below EMHP trainees
  • Education Mental Health Practitioners (EMHP) – will provide the bulk of support for children and young people with mild and moderate mental health and emotional wellbeing needs
  • Team Manager – Will support the implementation of MHSTs and provide support to senior therapists and clinicians
  • Administrative support – will provide the administrate needs of the team

The Link Programme

The Mid and South Essex STP has also been accepted onto the Link Programme. The Link Programme is a new £9.3m national initiative led by the Anna Freud Centre and funded by the Department for Education, which will be rolled out over four years starting from September 2019.

The programme has a simple aim: to bring together education and mental health professionals so that more children and young people get the help and support they need, when they need it. Anna Freud Consultants facilitate 2 workshops for Education and mental health professionals. CCGs will be coordinating these in partnership with schools in the Spring/Summer term and will be available for all schools to apply for.

What Next

The next steps are to establish the Mental Health Support Teams. Recruitment has already begun for some of the senior roles within the team and the Education Mental Health Practitioners will be receiving their training at University College London over the next year. We will be engaging with schools and colleges to determine what their needs are and how the MHST teams can best support them.

July 2019Announcement of the successful bids for the second wave of MHST trailblazer areas
August – September 2019Recruitment of senior staff who will support Education Mental Health Practitioners (EMHP) through their training
September 2019 – September 2020EMHPs will receive one year university at UCL, supported by clinical supervisors and with significant periods of time in practice.
September 2020The EMHPs complete their training and the MHST go live in Mid and South Essex schools and colleges.
Mental Health Support Teams Timeline

The next few months are set to be an exciting period for mental health support for children and young people as we begin to build the Mental Health Support Teams and crystallise the local offer. We will be working very closely with NEFLT to ensure that the teams are a success for children and young people in Mid and South Essex. We very much appreciate your ongoing support and we will continue to keep you up to date with developments in the coming months.