Thousands more NHS staff are working in children’s mental health services, as the demand for support is needed post-pandemic.

The ambition in the NHS Long Term Plan sees NHS Mental Health Support Teams (MHST) in place in around 4,700 schools and colleges across the country, with 62 expert teams offering support to children experiencing anxiety, depression, and other common mental health issues in the Midlands.

Children and young people across the Midlands are being encouraged to access these mental health support services in schools ahead of World Mental Health Day (10 October).

As of May 2022, over 3,000 children across the Midlands have been referred for support.

The theme for World Mental Health Day, set by the World Federation for Mental Health, is ‘to ‘make mental health and wellbeing a global priority’.

The Bemrose Primary and Secondary School in Derby provides a range of mental health support to its students. The school’s Mental Health Support Team, delivered by Action for Children and commissioned by Derbyshire ICB, works with students up to 17-years-old with mild to moderate mental health issues such as low moods, anxiety, sleep problems, stress and change.

The school has a strong pastoral team, as well as a school mental health lead. Since January 2021, the school has made 182 referrals for mental health support which has led to group work, one-to-one interventions with the children and parent led cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).

The students are also offered a range of help and support including friendship workshops, sleep hygiene workshops and mental health ambassador training.

The mental health support helps to increase pupils’ confidence to ask for help and as a result some are accessing more of their timetabled lessons. Pupils have also been heard having conversations with one another about the help and support they have accessed.

Fatimah Ali, a Year 8 Anti-Stigma and Mental Health Ambassador, said: “In my journey with the Mental Health Support Team, I got to learn new strategies to help myself and others.

“It is good to know that at Bemrose I have people that I know and trust to go to, if myself or my fellow students need someone to talk to.”

Karen Lamb, Pupils Welfare and Safeguarding Officer, added: “Here at The Bemrose School, we recognise that taking care of our wellbeing and that of others is a priority. That way we can support one another in becoming resilient.

“We have a staged approach to support from in-house provision for all, bespoke provision for individuals and external support including referrals to Changing Lives (MHST’s) who are based in our school.”

Giles Tinsley, Programme Director for Mental Health at NHS England in the Midlands, said: “Our Mental Health Support Teams have worked tirelessly over the past few years.

“On average, the Midlands region are seeing at least 50 children* or young person per Mental Health Support Team.

“The service has never been more needed, and it is clear to see the hugely positive impact upon children, young people and schools in the region.”

Parents and carers can help to look after a child or young person’s mental health.  The Every Mind Matters website has information on how to give children and young people support and help to keep them mentally healthy.

Further plans for the development of children and young people’s mental health care are described in the NHS Long Term Plan and set out in detail for local areas in the Mental Health Implementation Plan.

* Average number of referrals with at least one contact per MHST (Mental Health Services Data Set from April and May 2022).