Communication between school mental health support for children and the NHS was recently flagged as an area that may see additional benefits for players across the value chain, with improvement. To improve communication, a pilot programme, named the Mental Health Services and Schools Link Pilots scheme, was launched An analysis by Ecorys, appointed to judge the results of the pilot, finds that the project had “considerable success” in strengthening communication between the key stakeholders and the target groups.
NHS Children and Young People’s Mental Health Services (CYPMHS) is an NHS service focused on supporting the emotional wellbeing and mental health of young people across the UK. The organisation works with local partners, whom are in direct contact with children at schools and other contact points, to provide a range of metal health services, from counselling and social work support to more specialist psychiatry access.
In a bid to improve another key area of engagement, the Mental Health Services and Schools Link Pilots scheme was developed. The programme is focused on creating a bridge between key school stakeholders and main stakeholders from young people's mental health services, through direct communication between a single point of contact on each side.
The pilot scheme, which ran in 2015, involved over 250 schools in England – the initiative was run as a joint project between the primary stakeholders: NHS England and the Department for Education.
To better understand the effectiveness of the project, Ecorys was called in to assess the outcomes. Research by the consultancy firm into the effectiveness of the project found that it had “considerable success” in strengthening communication between the key stakeholders, which was further found to improve the outcomes for the target group.
Through the pilot’s focus on direct connection between schools and the NHS CYPMHS, school staff improved their overall understanding of mental health issues, while, it also allowed NHS CYPMHS staff to become more (directly) engaged with supporting pupils directly.
Laurie Day, lead for the evaluation engagement at Ecorys, says, “Our evaluation showed the clear importance of establishing a direct dialogue between schools and specialist mental health services. While some areas already had effective communication channels in place before the pilot, others had become stuck and there was a real sense of frustration. This had often resulted in young people being referred inappropriately, unnecessary delays, and mistrust between professionals.”