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Demand still growing despite expansion of mental health support in Nottinghamshire schools

There is more demand for mental health support workers in Nottinghamshire schools despite a huge expansion of the programme since 2019.

Mental health support teams allow children and young people to benefit from help for needs which would not meet the threshold of a ‘diagnosable mental health problem’.

This can include children experiencing low mood, anxiety or behavioural difficulties.

Nottinghamshire County Council's headquarters, County Hall. Credit: LDRS
Nottinghamshire County Council's headquarters, County Hall. Credit: LDRS

The teams, made up of senior clinicians, therapists and practitioners, carry out individual work, group sessions and parenting classes.

They are in 104 schools in Nottingham and Nottinghamshire, with an another 45 starting in September 2024 and a further 15 in January 2025.

The total cost of delivering the programme is £2.3m per year, which the local NHS says marks a “significant increase in funding within children and young people’s emotional health and wellbeing services locally”.

The NHS says since their creation in 2019, the Nottinghamshire mental health teams have grown “exponentially”.

But the NHS acknowledges currently support only reaches 45 per cent of schools within Nottinghamshire.

The Mental Health Support Teams (MHSTs) in Schools programme is run by Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust.

The programme has expanded in recent years with 15,599 parents and children supported in 2023, compared to 8,661 the previous year.

And 774 parents and children were supported in 2021, when 111 hours were spent on support, compared to 1,191 hours in 2023.

But NHS documents state there is a waiting list of schools applying to receive the support.

The programme will be discussed at Nottinghamshire County Council’s Health Scrutiny Committee on February 20.

Public Health and Nottinghamshire NHS Healthcare Trust representatives will speak to councillors about the roll-out.

NHS documents state: “As a service the aim is not to have waiting times for any young person requiring support, but at times workforce capacity can impact this.

“There are mitigating programmes in place to ensure that no child/young person waits without support. Within MHST’s a ‘waiting well’ programme is utilised for any young person who waits more than 6 weeks.

“The process provides a clinical contact at 6 weekly intervals, with a ‘check in’ and where risk is assessed.

“The average time a young person currently waits for treatment is 7.83 weeks.”

By January 2025 there will be 14 teams across the city and county, with nine of these across Nottinghamshire.

By 2025, 46 per cent of schools in Rushcliffe and 87 per cent of schools in Newark and Sherwood will be supported by mental health teams.

In comparison, 12 per cent of schools in Bassetlaw, 29 per cent of schools in Mansfield and 24 per cent of schools in Ashfield will be covered by mental health teams.

NHS England selected areas which were eligible for the extra support based on deprivation data, eligibility for free school meals, the number of child protection plans, children in care and the number of safeguarding assessments.

Each team typically covers a population of around 7,000 to 8,000 children and young people, aged five to 18 across primary, secondary, special and further education settings.

By January 2025 it is expected that approximately 45 per cent of schools and 72,000 children and young people across Nottinghamshire will be supported by an MHST.

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