New NHS mental health service helps over 3,300 students across 38 schools

Date published: 22 November 2021

A new NHS service to support the emotional wellbeing of children and young people in schools across Heywood, Middleton and Rochdale has helped over 3,300 students across 38 schools since it was launched earlier this year.

The young people’s mental health support team is delivered by Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust in partnership with local charities Early Break, Your Trust, Place2Be and Youth in Mind, and helps children aged four to 18, who are experiencing low level emotional and behavioural difficulties.

St Cuthbert’s High School in Rochdale is one school to benefit from the new service.

Kelly Fairbrother, student health and wellbeing officer at the school and Kate Thomas, trainee educational mental health practitioner from Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust, explained how the service works and the difference it has already made to students:

Kate said: “I work with St Cuthbert’s and two other schools in the Rochdale borough. I provide one-to-one sessions and group work for children and young people experiencing low mood, stress and anxiety – often these young people may have previously gone under the radar for mental health support. It is an opportunity for them to talk about their feelings and for me to provide low-intensity therapy and interventions.”

A young person who recently received support was displaying symptoms of anxiety which impacted on her thoughts, feelings and behaviours. This affected her friendship groups and she often worried about coming to school. Following low-intensity sessions, this young person reduced the amount of time she was worrying and regained her confidence. Her parents felt the support ‘gave them their daughter back.’ 

Another young person who was assessed for anxiety went on to disclose issues with food which could be the start of an eating disorder. Kate added: “I am able to build a rapport with young people which is incredibly important, they have a safe space to talk about their feelings. This early support is vital so issues they are experiencing don’t escalate.”

Kelly said: “Kate is such as valuable part of our community. She has worked with many of our students and has made such an enormous difference to so many already.

“Every child who has received support has responded really positively – they have welcomed the opportunity to talk through their feelings and develop goals to achieve.”

Another young person to receive support had low levels of self-esteem and confidence. They struggled to talk about their feelings but felt comfortable with Kate straightaway. Kate worked with them for six weeks and during that time many members of staff commented on how they looked so much happier and confident around school.

The young person entered the school talent show and performed a stand-up comedy slot. Kelly added: “It was truly amazing to see such a change in this young person and I feel that Kate played a massive role in this.”

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