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Children and young people will be given more support for their mental health thanks to government funding for a new regional pilot scheme - one of only a handful across the country.
Berkshire West has been selected by NHS England as a trailblazer for the initial three year project which will see more than £800,000 a year provided to run two dedicated mental health and support teams.
The project, which aims to initially support more than 500 children and young people, is a partnership between Berkshire West Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), Reading Borough Council, West Berkshire Council and Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust. Each local authority area will have its own mental health support team.
The support teams, made up of professionals from the NHS and local authorities, will work in schools and directly help children and young people to improve their emotional or mental health. Staff from the University of Reading will be providing training and equipping teams with the skills to raise awareness of mental health and reduce stigma.
The project will build on existing work across Berkshire West which has already been developed by partners in response to the government challenge Future in Mind – a scheme designed to promote, protect and improve children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing.
A select number of schools will be invited to take part in the pilot, with work continuing as usual with all schools to support children with mental health and wellbeing.
Katrina Anderson, Berkshire West CCG, Interim Director of Joint Commissioning, said: “I have seen first-hand the excellent work already being done in schools to support children and young people with their mental health. These new dedicated teams will build on this, working closely with children, young people and their families giving them vital support to help them deal with their mental health and wellbeing concerns.”
Tony Kildare, Managing Director of Brighter Futures for Children, a new council-owned company set up to deliver children’s services for Reading, said: “I am delighted that Reading has been included in this pilot scheme with our health and local authority partners.
“I look forward to seeing this initiative develop and help improve the emotional and mental health of our children, as well as raise awareness of this important issue.”
Cllr Ashley Pearce, Reading’s Lead Councillor for Education, said: “The emotional and mental wellbeing of our children and young people is critical and I am delighted that Reading’s schools will be part of this pilot.
“There is already good work being done in Reading to promote the mental health of young people and this will be reinforced by the support teams of experts working directly with schools and pupils in the borough.”
Cllr Lynne Doherty, West Berkshire Council’s Executive Member for Children and Young People, said: “This pilot will extend the mental health support for young people in the area and we’re delighted to be taking part. Selection for the trial recognises the good work already going on across Berkshire West and we will begin in a very strong position. In West Berkshire, both our Emotional Health Academy and Educational Psychology Service have a good track record in this area and inclusion in the pilot will mean more young people will be able to benefit from their expertise.”