By ANISAH ARIF
Kirklees has been chosen to receive a share of the 110m investment by NHS ‘trailblazer’ scheme to improve mental health services for children.
Matt Hancock, the Health secretary announced that Great Huddersfield and North Kirklees clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) is one of 25 areas to be given extra funding and more staff to launch new services for vulnerable youngsters.
The borough is the only part of West Yorkshire chosen for the new project.
The struggles to get help for children with mental health issues or autism has been reported by the media numerous times.
Some urgent cases often have to wait up to a week for an appointment whereas for less serious conditions, the waiting list is reported to be three to four months.
In 2015, a health chief admitted that services for children were “not fit for purpose”.
Mr Hancock said he understood the urgent need to make improvements but stressed that achieving equality of access between mental and physical health patients will take a “generation”.
He said the 25 new trailblazer regions will introduce new services to improve the mental health of nearly 500,000 children and young people.
One in eight children and young people aged between five and 19 had a mental disorder in England in 2017 according to NHS Digital.
The new pilot areas will see schools and the NHS working together to pilot proposals from the Government’s children and young people’s mental health green paper.
The plans include each school having a designated mental health lead, training new mental health support teams and a trial of a new four-hour waiting time target.
The Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) has selected seven institutions to train up to 8,000 new mental health practitioners beginning in January.
Each of the 59 mental health support teams will support about 8,000 young people across a cluster of 20 schools and colleges.
The local organisations involved have not yet been revealed. In Kirklees, NHS services are based at Folly Hall Mills in Huddersfield while Mirfield based charity Northorpe Hall also provides some support.
Northorpe Hall Child & Family Trust in Mirfield, a charity that provides mental health services for children and adolescents
Mr Hancock told the Press Association that the last few years have seen “radical improvements” to mental health services and a reduction in the stigma surrounding mental illness.
He said: “Bringing parity of access between mental and physical health services is the work of a generation.
“The balance is making sure that the extra money that’s coming is spent effectively, gets to the right places and helps people on the ground.
“I feel the urgency of need as deeply as anyone and I want to make sure that we get this right.
“Children and young people with mental illness should receive the same level of support as those with physical illness.
“Made possible by the extra £20.5 billion we are investing in the NHS, today’s announcement will see the health and education systems come together so our children can access the help they need at school and takes us a step closer to achieving our goal of parity between mental and physical health.”
The Government’s impact assessment estimates the schemes will cost about £110 million up to 2020-21, rising to £1.59 billion by 2027-28 to roll it out across the country.
The new services are expected to be rolled out to between a third and a fifth of the country by 2023-24, with further improvements for children and young people’s services promised in the NHS long-term plan.
Mr Hancock said: “This is not a pilot that has an end date, this is a first wave with a clear commitment to roll out nationally as we learn the lessons.”
The long-term plan, expected in the new year, will set out how the NHS will invest the £20.5 billion extra a year by 2023-24 which was promised in the budget.
Mr Hancock told PA he was determined to see long-term investment in improving children and young people’s mental health services beyond the five years of the plan.
He added: “We recognise the increased pressures both from an increase in mental health conditions and from an increase in people coming forward, which is a good thing, and so we have a broad programme to ensure that the funding is put in place.
“This programme is about making sure you get the funding in the right place and links between school system and health system so people know where to access the support they need.
“Five years is the longest ever settlement for the NHS and the £20 billion rise is the largest ever increase so I appreciate people saying can we get a 10-year settlement not a five-year settlement, but a five-year settlement is a significant improvement.”
Where to get help if you’re struggling
You don’t have to suffer in silence if you’re struggling with your mental health. Here are some groups you can contact when you need help.
Samaritans: Phone 116 123, 24 hours a day, or email email@example.com, in confidence
Childline: Phone 0800 1111. Calls are free and won’t show up on your bill
PAPYRUS: A voluntary organisation supporting suicidal teens and young adults. Phone 0800 068 4141
Depression Alliance: A charity for people with depression. No helpline but offers useful resources and links to other information
Bullying UK: A website for both children and adults affected by bullying.
Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM): For young men who are feeling unhappy. Has a website and a helpline: 0800 58 58 58