Published on: 8th August 2023
An early intervention mental health service for Greater Manchester schools has helped over 2,000 children and teenagers in 150 schools since it launched.
The young people’s mental health support teams, run by Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust in partnership with local voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) organisations, first launched in Oldham and Rochdale in 2021 and most recently in Bury, Stockport and Tameside.
Working directly with schools, the specialist teams provide group and one-to-one sessions for children experiencing emotional and behavioural difficulties, such as worry or low mood; as well as supporting schools to develop their whole school approach to mental health and wellbeing.
Lisa Slater, service manager at Pennine Care NHS, said: “Schools have a hugely important role to play in supporting the mental health and wellbeing of their pupils. Our teams provide direct support for schools in the five Greater Manchester boroughs we work in.
“We help pupils with mild to moderate mental health problems; as well as a wide range of early intervention and prevention tools, such as delivering assemblies, education and training to staff, and workshops for parents.”
Kate Tasker, operational manager for the Stockport mental health support team which started earlier this year in partnership with charity Beacon Counselling, explains the work they’ve been doing: “We work with 27 schools in Stockport, including 17 primary and 10 secondary schools. We offer various types of therapy to help children positively change their thoughts, behaviour and help them better understand what they’re going through.
“We use a range of techniques and tools depending on the age of the child, for example, with younger children we use puppets to help explore their emotions and feelings in different situations.”
Providing children with a safe space in school means they’re able to be more open and react more positively to support. Plus, having direct access to specialist mental health professionals means teachers can better support their students’ wellbeing too.
In Oldham, the mental health support team has been working with schools in the borough for two years. One parent whose son took part in sessions focussing on worry and anxiety management, said: “My son was consistently saying he felt sick and was struggling with his emotions. At home he was happy; but he’d worry about going to school, being sick there, getting ill or hurt, being around a lot of people.
“He had eight sessions with the mental health support team and his progress has been fantastic. His confidence has increased, he can handle small challenges himself and better communicate those challenges with us. He’s now started to go out more, visiting his friend’s house and other places. The sessions have made him feel happier and better prepared for any difficulties.”
How to access support
Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust’s young people mental health support teams work in schools across Stockport, Tameside, Rochdale, Oldham and Bury. More information is available at: www.penninecare.nhs.uk/camhs