Hertfordshire’s key role in children’s mental health review

Today, Thursday 8 March, the CQC published its recommendations in a report called Are we listening?, which featured the work of Hertfordshire Partnership NHS University Foundation Trust’s (HPFT) children and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) community eating disorder team.

“It was a great opportunity to showcase some of the good work that has been done across all organisations in Hertfordshire to improve children and young people’s emotional wellbeing, through Hertfordshire’s CAMHS Transformation,” said Dr Prag Moodley, a Stevenage GP who leads on mental health services for East and North Hertfordshire CCG. “The CQC team paid tribute to all the professionals they met, saying they ‘take their hat off’ to them. They were impressed with the progress we’ve made in the last two years.”

More than 70 professionals from schools, child and adolescent mental health service (CAMHS) providers and social care met the CQC team last October, together with groups of young people, parents and carers, during a week-long visit.

Hertfordshire was the final area visited and Green Paper author, Catherine Tyack, from the Department of Health, accompanied the review team for one day to hear first-hand about HPFT’s children and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) and its community eating disorder and perinatal mental health teams.

The CQC has recommended that organisations work together – health, social care, education, police, probation and third sector – to plan mental health and wellbeing services for children and young people. This is already happening in Hertfordshire, where we know at least one child in 10 has a diagnosable mental health problem, and many more will need some support to prevent more serious difficulties from emerging.

Hertfordshire’s two NHS clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), East and North Hertfordshire CCG and Herts Valleys CCG, which buy health services for the county’s population, are working with Hertfordshire’s Health and Wellbeing Board, Public Health, Hertfordshire County Council and other partners to develop and implement the mental health and wellbeing transformation plan for children and young people in Hertfordshire.

Key priorities are to:

  • focus on prevention and early intervention to give children and young people good emotional  wellbeing support
  • improve access for children and young people to psychological therapies
  • improve communication between education and mental health services for children and young people
  • develop community eating disorder services
  • improve perinatal care, particularly for mums-to-be and new mothers, as there is a strong link between parental (particularly maternal) mental health and children’s mental health.

A lot of work has been done in the last two years to focus on improving access to early help to give children and young people and adults good emotional wellbeing support.

www.kooth.com is a free, confidential online counselling service that is available for 10-25 year olds in Herts. Well over 4,200 young people have signed up to use Kooth, which has had great feedback from children, parents, teachers and other professionals.

In Hertfordshire:

  • more than 400 schools already have a mental health lead
  • more than 500 Herts professionals, including school and college professionals, Youth Connexions workers, social workers and residential care workers, have been trained in youth mental health first aid
  • waiting times for services in Hertfordshire have improved
  • the crisis team now offers an extended service from 9am to 9pm, 365 days a year
  • our successful Just Talk campaign launched in January to tackle mental health stigma in boys and young men, as statistics show far fewer boys seek support
  • a community perinatal team has launched supporting mums-to-be and new mothers.

There’s more information at www.healthyyoungmindsinherts.org.uk

The Prime Minister announced the thematic review in January 2017 and the Green Paper consultation ended last week, with a White Paper to follow soon.

The other areas visited were Bedford, Bristol, Dorset, Enfield, Liverpool, North Yorkshire, Southwark, South Tyneside and Walsall.