New mental health assistance will be open to thousands of Rotherham children
Eight thousand school children and college students in Rotherham will be offered new help with mental health issues under a new project to be piloted across the town.
But one councillor has expressed disappointment that there is no commitment about whether the NHS funding for the scheme will continue if it is successful, or whether cash will be available to roll it out to all schools.
The mental health Trail Blazer project is in the process of going ‘live’, with two teams of new mental health workers currently undergoing university based training as well as beginning visits to the 22 schools and other educational establishments involved.
It is expected they will be fully trained and working full time by March next year, with the intention of providing a service which should help to avoid youngsters needing more involved assistance from mental health services, by getting in with an early response before problems have the opportunity to develop.
All the schools involved in the scheme had to ask to take part and they were chosen to provide a span across the age range and to reflect schools with different levels of internal support for those with mental health issues, so the success of the pilot project in different environments can be reflected.
The scheme is intended to provide support for low and moderate mental health problems, with two teams of new mental health staff working providing both one to one assistance and group sessions.
Jenny Lingrell, an officer working for both the council and NHS, told councillors: “Schools are telling us they are facing challenging behaviour in the classroom more and more.
“What we need to do, because we have the Trail Blazer, is maximise our opportunity to learn what we can do across the whole system.
However, Coun Kerry Albiston said: “It is increasingly inconsiderate and unfair to keep offering these projects without and consideration as to what to do if they are successful.
“They don’t set out to fail. I cannot get my head around why we don’t have this as part of the strategy,” she said.
Some of the work will be overseen by Barnardos, the charity which now has a positive track record for its work in Rotherham schools.