A nine-point plan to improve mental health provision to South Tyneside’s 33,000 children and young people was endorsed this week.
A South Tyneside Council commission worked from December to April to look at ways to improve the “mental health and emotional well-being” of youngsters in the borough up to the age of 19.
We will be undertaking a full assessmentCoun Joan Atkinson
It came after research revealed that 41 per cent of primary school pupils are worried about taking their SAT exams and 16 per cent have body image issues.
Evidence was collected from GPs, public health bosses – including Amanda Healy, the council’s director of public health, education officials and representatives of children themselves –in particular the borough’s Young People’s Parliament.
One of the big issues identified was the length of time children were waiting to access mental health services.
In October 2014, of the young people that had been seen, 60 per cent had waited at least 12 weeks before treatment.
The commission’s nine recommendations, endorsed by the council’s decision-making cabinet this week, included a call for the launch of a specific public health project in South Tyneside to understand the mental health needs of young people and the creation of an early detection training programme in borough schools.
Coun Joan Atkinson, the council’s lead member for Children, Young People and Families, said: “Having good mental health and emotional wellbeing is vital to enable our young people to achieve their full potential in life. Therefore, it is crucial to build emotional resilience from an early age.
“We will be undertaking a full assessment of the needs of our young people in relation to emotional health and wellbeing, working closely with young people and partner organisations within the NHS, education, social care and Third Sector.
“This will ensure that emerging issues, including self-harm and the use of social media, can be examined in more detail and action taken appropriately.”
Nine ways for improvements
The nine recommendations:
•The director of public health to launch mental health project to address issues around self-harm and social media. •Address the issue of waiting times for access to mental health services. •Keeping tabs on number of referrals to services. •Training programmes for GPs, school governors, teachers and social workers. •Investment to ensure waiting times are reduced from 12 to six weeks. •Clinical Commissioning Group to offer more support to young people.
•More mental health information in GP surgeries, libraries and youth clubs. •Education programmes in schools. •Continued consultation with Youth Parliament.