Mental health teams are set to be in 75 per cent of schools by 2025.
The introduction of specialist teams comes following a rise in the number of young people being looked after for mental health issues.
Essex County Council’s (ECC) people and families policy and scrutiny committee heard that many teachers are fatigued as a result of the coronavirus crisis and do not have the skills to deal with many of the issues that children are now living with. The most common are eating disorders and anxiety.
Sarah Garner, associate director of Southend, Essex and Thurrock Children & Young People’s Emotional Wellbeing & Mental Health Collaborative – a group of seven CCGs and three local authorities across Southend, Essex and Thurrock (SET) facilitating children’s mental health interventions – told ECC that by 2025, 75 per cent of mainstream schools will be covered by mental health specialist teams in a single of access.
Ms Garner said: “We’ve already got a number of schools across Essex that are engaged in this process as well so it’s quite early, it’s only last year that they really came on board.
“We can offer education advice to guidance of school staff. We’ve had a lot of schools contacting the single point of access saying that their staff are Covid fatigued, they have a child in front of them and they just quite simply don’t know what to do with them.
“Just having some early information and advice on what to say, how to have those conversations, how to have good discussions with them, as well without one scaring the child off and also as well, about developing mental health skills in schools.”
Ms Garner said that eating disorders and anxiety are the most common areas schools are seeing.
Overall, there has been a marked increase in people commencing treatment. In 2015/2016 there were 2,490 young people starting treatment. Last year there was 15,000.
Ms Garner added: “You can see the astronomical rise in people’s mental health requirements and also as well, I think part of that is to do with it not being so stigmatised and people actually realising this is a mental health issue – ‘no I’m not okay and I do need to seek help’.”