New project to improve the mental health of children and young people in Tower Hamlets

Tower Hamlets has been named as a new trailblazer site for a national project to improve the mental health of children and young people. 

The pilot was jointly announced by the Department for Education and the Department of Health and is part of a wider programme to improve the mental health support available to pupils and school staff. 

It will fund dedicated school Mental Health Support Teams (MHSTs), training to establish senior mental health leads and reduced waiting times for accessing Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) treatment. It could see support given to up to 1000 additional children in Tower Hamlets a year. 

Tower Hamlets was chosen as a trailblazer site in part because it has well established programmes supporting schools around mental and emotional wellbeing. 

One in nine young people aged five to 15 had a mental health condition in 2017 and half of all mental health conditions start before the age of fourteen. Tower Hamlets experiences high levels of deprivation, which greatly increases the likelihood of a child developing an enduring mental illness. 

Early intervention can prevent problems escalating and have major benefits for the wider community. MHSTs will work within or near schools to provide direct support to children and young people with mild to moderate mental health problems and to access to more specialist support when needed. 

Mayor of Tower Hamlets John Biggs said: “We know that good emotional health and wellbeing is critical to the overall development of children and helps them achieve their full potential both in school and later life. That’s why we commission a range of services that work with schools to comprehensively address mental and emotional health. 

“We are thrilled to be receiving this funding so our successful programmes can reach even more young people in our borough.” 

Dr Sam Everington, GP and chair of NHS Tower Hamlets CCG, said: “Growing up in 21st century London can be difficult and young people find themselves under a number of different pressures. The NHS, council and other partners in Tower Hamlets have done a lot to provide the best mental health support for children and young people and this funding places us at the forefront of work to improve mental health in England.”