Healthwatch Essex Welcomes New Mental Health Support Teams in Schools

This week, it was announced that Mental Health Support Teams (MHST) will be rolled out in educational settings across Mid and South Essex by September 2020. It’s a move which is welcomed by Healthwatch Essex following our engagement with nearly 2,000 young people in the county over the last four years.

Consistently, over that period of time, we discovered that young people in Essex often lack the support and education they need in relation to mental health.

Hannah Fletcher, who has authored six Healthwatch Essex reports focusing on young people’s attitudes to health and social care, said:

The young people we have spoken to highlighted how the stigma associated with mental health often stopped them seeking support immediately. Even when they did pluck up the courage to speak to someone, whether they received the support they needed depended on the mental health literacy of the person they confided in. All too often, delays in receiving the appropriate service led to young people reaching crisis point which could have been avoided with much earlier intervention.

Hearing that this issue is now being addressed with teams of skilled people placed in educational settings is great news, because it begins to tackle some of the core problems we saw young people encounter. It is also a welcome announcement that funding is being placed where some of the greatest need is.”

The news comes after the Mid and South Essex Sustainability and Transformation Partnership (STP) submitted a successful bid to be one of the areas to benefit from extra funding to introduce this model. The teams are envisioned to provide early intervention on mild and moderate mental health and emotional wellbeing issues such as low mood and anxiety.

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, including therapists and mental health practitioners.

David Sollis, Chief Executive of Healthwatch Essex said: “We know that mental health conditions in young people are on the rise in the county and they are not always given the same attention as physical conditions.

Any initiative which helps to reach people at a younger age, both to educate and equip them to manage their own mental health, or to provide interventions where there are already recognised mental health condition, has got to be a step forward.”

You can read any of Hannah’s reports using the links below: