Thousands of schoolchildren in Croydon will benefit from a share of a £4.3m joint funding boost to improve mental health services for pupils in south west London.
The new NHS funding will be used to roll out specialist teams in 40 Croydon primary, secondary and SEN schools and further education colleges, who will lead mental health programmes and training for children and young people, their families and teachers.
This will include at least eight new emotional wellbeing practitioners to deliver support to children and young people, with a focus on helping them build their emotional resilience through improving inclusion, tackling bullying, reducing youth violence and dealing with other difficulties they may face.
Parents will have the opportunity to practise conversations that encourage better mental health and wellbeing, while teachers and support workers will also be trained to recognise, support and signpost or refer pupils to specialist child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS).
Croydon Council, local schools, and the local NHS are key partners and the successful bid was jointly submitted by six boroughs across South West London. More than 80,000 children across this area are expected to benefit, which is around half of all pupils in the region.
The new mental health programmes align with work already under way as part of Croydon Council’s award-winning Choose Your Future campaign, which is helping young people who feel stressed, anxious or overwhelmed – for example, about exams, or other challenging situations – to ask for help when they need it, so they can thrive to reach their full potential.
Councillor Jane Avis, Croydon Council’s lead for families, health and social care said: “This additional funding is much needed and it will help us to support even more children and young people to deal with challenges in their lives, before it becomes a crisis. It will boost our efforts to transform the health and wellbeing of all children and young people in the borough. This kind of early intervention and the focus on prevention are vital to maintain good mental health in the long term, as well as helping to ease the demand on health and wellbeing services in the future.”
Councillor Alisa Flemming, Croydon Council’s lead for children, young people and learning said: “We are delighted to have received this NHS funding to further improve emotional and wellbeing support in our schools. More children will now benefit from the council’s ongoing investment in education programmes and campaigns, such as our Choose Your Future campaign, that helps them to build their resilience by providing them with the tools to thrive as they grow up. We hope to expand this new model across all schools in the borough.”
Dr Agnelo Fernandes, Clinical Chair at NHS Croydon Clinical Commissioning Group added: “This funding is great news for Croydon. Having access to the right help and support early on to deal with a mental health concern can make a real difference to a person’s life, and reduce the numbers who need more intense support. The new specialist teams and training programmes planned for Croydon will help to revolutionise how we work together across agencies to better support children and young people.”
Patrick Shields, Head Teacher at St Mary’s Catholic High School in Croydon said:
“This extra funding is absolutely fabulous news for schools across Croydon. In an increasingly pressurised society, it’s really important we support young people with their mental health. At St Mary’s we are focusing on improving emotional wellbeing – and this additional resource means our pupils and families will have access to more direct help from qualified professionals.”