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Trailblazer project will help transform mental health for young people across North Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent

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Children and young people in Stoke-on-Trent and North Staffordshire will benefit from a pioneering scheme delivered by North Staffordshire Combined Healthcare NHS Trust in partnership with commissioners and local government to improve mental health in schools.

One in nine young people aged five to 15 are thought to have a mental health condition. Teenagers with a mental health disorder are far more likely to suffer from mental health problems as an adult.

The new NHS funding announced today by the Government will allow the formation of a “trailblazer” project that will increase the support that is available in a number of schools by December 2019.

Approximately £2 million will provide:

  • over 30 new posts to form four brand new mental health support teams of children's mental health specialists and trainees to work in schools across Stoke-on-Trent and North Staffordshire
  • extra funding and additional staff for Stoke-on-Trent and North Staffordshire community mental health teams, in order to cut children's mental health waiting times to four weeks from referral to treatment for all children

The announcement means Stoke-on-Trent and North Staffordshire are among 25 national trailblazers for the transforming children’s and young people’s mental health programme.

Marcus Warnes, Accountable Officer for the Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent CCGs said: “This is superb news for the area. We know that children and young people can feel under enormous pressure and that mental health among our young people is a serious issue. Early intervention and support can play a massive difference.

“Over the next 12 months we shall be working hard with NHS partners, Staffordshire County Council and Stoke-on-Trent City Council to work on the details of how this trailblazer will make the maximum difference to you people.”

"Combined Healthcare is beginning a major recruitment drive today for both trainee education mental health practitioners as well as qualified mental health practitioners to form the new mental health support teams covering both Stoke-on-Trent and North Staffordshire. The Trust will also be recruiting a number of staff to expand existing community teams, which will help to deliver the four week target from referral to treatment throughout its children's mental health services.”

Commenting on the announcement, Jonathan O'Brien, Executive Director of Operations at North Staffordshire Combined Healthcare, said: "What a Christmas present for the NHS, for parents, children and schools across Stoke-on-Trent and North Staffordshire.  We are delighted to have been chosen as the provider to deliver this multi-million pound transformation for children's mental health and will work very hard to ensure that we see the benefits as soon as possible.

"This will build on and expand the excellent care our existing children’s mental health teams already deliver across Stoke-on-Trent and North Staffordshire. We will be launching our recruitment drive immediately today and we would urge anyone interested in being part of this exciting new transformation to get in touch."

Anyone interested can find out how to apply via the Combined Healthcare website

Councillor Ann James, leader of Stoke-on-Trent City Council and cabinet member for health and social care, said: “This funding aims to make huge improvements in mental health support for children, young people and their families. 

“The new teams will give schools and colleges better options for support so children and young people can access mental health interventions in the right way, first time.

“The pilot of a four week limit for treatment will also make a big difference to those needing direct support. It’s great news for parents and young people across Stoke-on-Trent and North Staffordshire, and we hope the partnership approach is a huge success that we can build on for the future.” 

Staffordshire County Councillor Mark Sutton, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People said: “Promoting good mental health and helping young people who are experiencing issues with their emotional wellbeing is key to ensuring they can move into adulthood successfully.  We have worked hard to develop an integrated strategic approach to addressing emotional wellbeing and mental health across Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent and are delighted about this success. We will be working closely with our partners to ensure this project really makes a difference to young people, helping more children to get the right support at the right time.”