Our report Scoping A Model For Mental Health Support in Secondary Schools surveyed 100 parents and 22 young people in North Somerset. We asked them whether they had sought help and whether they had been successful and the kind of services/people that they would approach and what setting would be easiest for them.
Some of the first-hand experiences shared with us included: • Not enough counselling sessions • Had to fight for help. • Obstructed by waiting lists for the Child and Adolescent Mental Health service • No clear pathway or signposting /not sure where to go and what is out there. • Plucked up courage to see GP – but services are swamped so no help provided.
The issues of long waits for support has been highlighted in our quarterly feedback reports. Funding for Mental Health Support Teams from NHS England has been agreed but the service will not be established in North Somerset until next year.
In June 2019 Healthwatch North Somerset produced the report “Understanding access to mental health support through school”. The evaluation was carried out to explore the situation for children and young people seeking early intervention mental health help through their schools and colleges, and their access to other services outside school.
Parents/carers and children and young people have an awareness of mental health issues and are prepared to seek help and support.
A holistic approach is preferred, with help and support being across a range of sources. Family and friends play a vital role and wellbeing should be part of the school curriculum. This recognises that one size does not fit all, and the individual needs to find what works for them. An informal, local approach is preferred, over a more structure format which might mean more travelling for sessions.
Signposting needs to be clearer so that both students and parents know where to start and what services are out there. Professional capacity was citied a concern, as was the need for an embedded ethos around Mental Health support in the school.
Off the Record will be providing a service that will help to fill some of the gaps in provision outlined in our patient feedback obtained for this report. Their response is listed below. https://otrnorthsomerset.org.uk/