Transforming children and young people’s mental health services

Children-playground

Improved and expanded mental health services for children and young people across Bradford and Airedale are in the pipeline.

The NHS is investing an extra £5.5m over the next five years in the Bradford district and Airedale to transform access and support for local children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing.

It is part of the NHS’ national parity of esteem agenda which aims to ensure that services which assess and treat mental health conditions are on a par with physical health illnesses.

The funding, from NHS England, will bring more specialised mental health workers, improve existing services and build new services across both the NHS and voluntary sector. The planned transformation will also allow workers to support secondary schools with young people who have emerging mental health concerns.

The local NHS clinical commissioning groups (CCGs): Airedale, Wharfedale and Craven; Bradford City; and Bradford Districts worked with Bradford Council to develop the local Future in Mind transformation plan to support improvements in children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing.

All CCG areas were required to produce their own transformation plan covering a wide range of services, with the extra funding dependent on the plans being agreed by NHS England.

The Bradford and Airedale plan was praised for involving a wide range of stakeholders, including children and young people, in its development and also for prioritising services for vulnerable groups and focusing on crisis care.

It is becoming increasingly important for children and young people to be involved in planning services as Bradford has the third largest child population in the UK, 35% of the City area’s population is under 19 and, over the next five years, Bradford is expected to become the youngest city in Europe.

Bradford also has some risk factors which increase the likelihood of poor wellbeing and mental health, in particular the high numbers of children living in poverty and disadvantaged circumstances. And one in 10 children in the city area needs support for mental health problems.

Dr Brendan Kennedy, GP and chair of the CCGs’ group responsible for the transformation of mental health services, said: “With 75% of mental health problems in adult life, excluding dementia, starting by the age of 18, there is a compelling case for change and investment in services for children and young people.

“That’s why this funding is such good news for Bradford and Airedale. Our plans are ambitious and it will be challenging to deliver everything we hope to, but there is a real commitment from all of us in health and our partner organisations to make some vital improvements for our young people.

“We now have a clear plan on where this money can be best spent, developed in consultation with children themselves. New and improved services will support children and young people with a wide range of needs, including treatment for eating disorders and specialist crisis support out of hours.”

Priority areas for the new funding include:

  • developing a community-based eating disorder service to support children and young people with an eating disorder, while remaining at home instead of having to travel out of area for treatment
  • establishing a role of mental health lead in half of all secondary schools by 2017
  • ensuring children and young people at a time of crisis have their needs assessed by the mental health First Response service
  • providing therapeutic care to vulnerable young people, specifically looked after children, by making sure they receive an assessment from a mental health worker
  • building resilience, early intervention and prevention by developing a children and young people’s single point of access hub
  • designing a one stop shop or drop-in facility for hard to reach young people.
    A recent initiative, which supports mental health services transformation, was a website funded by Bradford City CCG and developed in partnership with Barnardo’s.

The website Thrive Bradford helps young people navigate through their teenage years. It is designed to provide vital support, information and guidance about the transition into adulthood for young people aged 13 – 19 across the Bradford district – especially the transition from child to adult mental health services.