A national programme designed to get children and young people the mental health support they need, when they need it, will launch across mid and south Essex in this month.

The Mental Health Services and Schools and Colleges Link Programme is designed to bring mental health and education professionals together at workshops in their area to improve services to children and young people.

The Link Programme is being led by the Anna Freud Centre and funded by the Department for Education. All schools and colleges in mid and south Essex have been invited to take part.  The first workshop will be held in Southend on February 14, with further workshops across Mid Essex, Thurrock and Basildon over the coming year.

Mark Tebbs, Director for Mental Health across Mid and South Essex and Chair of the Link Programme project group, said:

“The Link Programme will make a major difference to children and young people across mid and south Essex who need support with their emotional wellbeing and mental health. By taking part in the workshops, colleagues from education, community services, charity and the voluntary sector and mental health professionals will be able to find a way forward to make sure children and young people get the support they need at the earliest opportunity.

“We have had a great response from both the education and mental health sectors which promise to make the workshops productive and valuable.”

One in nine young people aged 5 to 15 had a diagnosable mental health condition in 2017 and teenagers with a mental health disorder are more than twice as likely to have a mental health disorder in adulthood. The Link Programme is part of the Government’s plan to improve mental health support for children and young people, including identifying mental health issues before they become more acute.

CEO of the Anna Freud Centre Professor Peter Fonagy said:

“With half of all lifetime cases of mental health disorders beginning by the age of 14, there is no greater investment we can make from an economic or moral perspective than to promote the physical and mental health of children and young people. We need to give children and young people in mid and south Essex the help they need when they need it and to think differently about how to deliver support. The Link Programme does exactly that.

“The Link Programme is a transformative programme which brings together mental health and education professionals to work together to promote mental health and alleviate children and young people’s distress. This way we can identify their needs early and sign post them to the best support.”