New service helps children thrive in education

A new service has launched in the Rochdale borough to make sure school children with low-level emotional and behavioural difficulties receive the right help, at the right time, in the right place.

The Heywood, Middleton and Rochdale young people’s mental health support team is run by mental health and learning disability trust Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust, in partnership with local charities Early Break, Link4Life, Place2Be and Youth in Mind (part of Tameside, Oldham and Glossop Mind).

The team’s goal is to help young people, from four to 18 years, to thrive in education and beyond, so they can reach their full potential.

Providing early support reduces the risk of issues becoming worse; so the team also aims to reduce demand on Pennine Care’s higher level child and adolescent mental health services, freeing them up to care for those with more complex needs.

The team is based in 32 schools across the borough and works closely with school staff and parents, to make sure young people can benefit from joined up support.

A young person can be referred by their school mental health lead or link worker if they are experiencing issues such as worry and low mood.

A package of support will be developed based on the young person’s individual needs.  This could include cognitive behavioural informed therapy (understanding the link between thoughts, feelings and behaviour) and counselling, or other types of support such as sport, drama, music or art.

Support may be provided in school, or another community-based venue and is available face-to-face, by video or telephone, depending on the needs of the young person.

Karen McElroy, clinical lead at Pennine Care, said: “The number of children experiencing mental health issues is increasing – particular after the challenges of the last year.  It’s vital to identify difficulties early and provide the right support.

“We are passionate about supporting children and young people and making a positive difference to their lives and are looking forward to working with young people, education colleagues and parents across the area.”

Michelle Barker is the mental health lead and assistant special educational needs and disability co-ordinator at Broadfield Community Primary School in Rochdale.  She said: “Working with the team has allowed us to reflect upon our strengths and opportunities for supporting special educational and mental health needs at our school. 

“Our mental health practitioner has been so supportive and knowledgeable; supporting our current systems and becoming an active member of our school.

“We are proud to be pioneers for this new programme and really excited to see the positive impact it will have on our children and families from the diverse communities we serve.”

Pennine Care has also launched a similar service in Oldham and hopes to expand into other Greater Manchester boroughs in the future.

These brand new services have been possible thanks to funding from the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership. Part of the Greater Manchester mental health in education programme, the funding aims to develop early help for mental health issues within schools and colleges; enabling staff to support students’ wellbeing and good mental health.

Parents and carers in the Rochdale borough who would like you know more should speak to their child’s teacher, or the school mental health lead or link worker.

Here is a short video clip of Pennine Care clinical lead Karen McElroy introducing the new service: