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Bristol, South Gloucestershire and North Somerset

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Mental Health Support Team [MHST]

Schools play an important role in supporting the wellbeing of children and young people at a time when they are experiencing lots of physical, emotional and social changes. Nationally, the introduction of Mental Health Support Teams (MHSTs) working within schools is a new approach to provide an additional source of support to young people and their families.

In Bristol, South Gloucestershire the MHST programme is being delivered in partnership between Off the Record (OTR) and Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust (AWP), both of whom are already delivering mental health support services locally.

MHSTs are working with a number of schools across Bristol, South Gloucestershire and North Somerset. The teams are being trained to offer support to children and young people for mild to moderate mental health difficulties that could include; anxieties, low mood, exam stress and friendship issues. They will use evidence based interventions to support children and young people, called low intensity Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (LI-CBT). These will help to tackle the challenges and emotional wellbeing needs that children and young people experience, by helping them to feel more resilient, arming them with techniques to look after themselves, and providing strategies to help them cope better with life’s ups and downs.

This follows the recommended treatment for depression and anxiety in children from the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE).

The MHSTs will be working in schools with what we call a ‘whole-school approach’. The teams will work in partnership with other service providers across health and social care and the youth sector to ensure young people and their families receive the right support at the right time. This could involve offering training, co-delivering parenting workshops, building resources or helping the school with their own systems to improve outcomes for children and young people in their school.

What is the background?

In 2017, the Government published its Green Paper for transforming and expanding children and young people’s mental health care, and this included establishing the new Mental Health Support Teams to be based in schools and colleges.

Each MHST will cover a population of approximately 8,000 school-aged children. The team will comprise four Education Mental Health Practitioners (EMHPs), two EMHP Supervisors and a Team Manager. These roles are designed to add resource to the existing structures in education settings, rather than replace any existing support.

Developing MHSTs are a key part of the ‘BNSSG Long Term Plan’ for children and young people, which aims to provide an MHST service to 25% of all school-aged children by 2023.

Where will these teams be working?

The first areas in which the Mental Health Support Teams will work across are:

  • South Gloucestershire 
  • Bristol East Central 
  • Bristol North
  • Bristol South
  • North Somerset

For the first year (2021-22), Public Health have selected a few schools to host an Education Mental Health Practitioners (EMHP) in-training. Once qualified (after a year), additional schools will be included.

How to access the MHSTs

If you would like to make a referral to one of our practitioners the referral route is through the school. Please discuss this with the mental health lead in your school in the first instance. All referrals to the team come through the school and will be assessed for suitability.

The child will need to be attending one of the schools our MHST teams are placed in – please see the list of schools below.

If your child is not in a school we are currently able to operate in, we can refer to other sources of support. Please call the OTR Membership Team and they will be able to explain and signpost to other services available – 0808 808 9120, Mon-Fri 2-5pm.

Why the otter?

The look and feel of the MHST branding was co-developed with local children and young people.

The otter design came from the idea that otters build tools to support themselves and each other – so we took that and developed it into a strapline: ‘Tools to thrive’. We feel that this nicely summarises what this team aims to equip young people with.

What will happen when I first meet someone from the MHSTs?

When you are referred to the MHST service you will be contacted very quickly to arrange a ‘meet and greet’ with you and a team member. This will be just for 15 minutes or so to explain what we do and how we work.

What if I do not attend school at the moment or I don’t have someone I feel comfortable to talk to in school?

If you don’t attend school at the moment or would prefer not to be seen in your school we can talk about alternative meeting spaces, if that’s possible in your local area, such as Children’s or Youth Centres.

List of schools

Schools in Bristol South

Schools in Bristol East and Central

Schools in Bristol South and East Central

Schools in Bristol North

Schools in South Gloucestershire (Patchway)

Schools in South Gloucestershire (Hanham)

Schools in North Somerset

Schools in South Gloucestershire (Yate)

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