Local NHS and voluntary organisations are supporting schools in Teesside to address the wellbeing needs of students returning this September.
As part of The Durham, Darlington and Teesside NHS mental health and learning disability partnership, a number of local agencies have come together to make it quicker and easier for young people to access support for emotional or mental health difficulties.
Adopting a universal approach to improve outcomes for young people in the local area, the multi-agency collaborative led by the trust and Tees Valley Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), have worked together to make sure teachers, students and families are appropriately supported as they transition back into school life.
Ahead of the Autumn term more than 170 teachers took part in online training covering topics including low mood and anxiety to help them identify and respond to students experiencing difficulties. Self-help resources were also provided to local schools and a series of focused groups for children and young people are planned for those who may struggle as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Working in schools, mental health support teams will be on hand to provide teaching staff with continued advice and training on wellbeing issues as well as to provide direct support to young people where needed.
Lynne Brown, service manager for child and adolescent mental health community services for TEWV in Teesside, said: “While for many children and families, going back to school will be a welcome return, it is important to remember that others will be anxious. This is a big change and there will be a period of adjustment as people settle into new routines and rhythms.
“We know that experiences in childhood can have a huge impact on our lives; affecting the relationships we form, our academic achievements and emotional resilience.
“Everyone has their own experience of the pandemic; some of which will be more positive than others. It is essential that children and young people are able to access appropriate support to help them manage their emotions and wellbeing during this period of significant change.
“Teachers spend a lot of time with their students and the relationships they build are often very positive. As such, they are ideally placed to offer early support to those experiencing difficulties.
“In Teesside we have an established child and adolescent mental health service (CAMHS) training programme which we have been able to use to support teachers; equipping them with the skills to help children feel safe, calm and connected, as well as to support those experiencing emotional or mental health difficulties.
“We are also working closely with colleagues from a number of local organisations to deliver ongoing support within the school environment; helping to strengthen relationships between services and improve outcomes for children, young people and their families.
Mike Brierley, director of mental health and learning disabilities for Tees Valley CCG said: “It has never been more important for providers to come together to address the needs of local people. This is an excellent example of what can be achieved and supports ambitions of the NHS long term plan to address the emotional health and well-being of our children and young people.
“Going forward we hope to further build on this foundation of collaborative working in Tees Valley and develop more joined up services to meet the needs of our young people and their families.”