Open up, Reach out: Extra £3.3 million for children's mental health services

Cover of Open up, Reach out document showing a boy doing chalk drawing of rocket on a wall

Essex, Southend and Thurrock have launched a £3.3 million plan to improve mental health for children and young people.

An unprecedented partnership of ten authorities covering the county of Essex has published Open up, Reach out, a five-year local transformation plan for the emotional wellbeing and mental health of children and young people.

Plan receives top rating from national leaders

The plan includes major improvements and new services with an investment of £3.3 million per year added to the current £13.2 million a year budget – an increase of 25%.

In a recent assessment by NHS England, the plan was rated the highest in the Midlands and East region.

Some of the planned improvements over the next three years include:

  • Nearly £1m per annum extra to expand services for eating disorders
  • Enhanced crisis services working 9am-9pm, 7 days a week
  • An increase in staff providing single points of access in each local authority area – Southend, Essex and Thurrock – making it easier for young people, families and professionals to get the support they need
  • Special training and support for schools and other places that help children and young people

Basildon and Brentwood Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is among the partners which will be delivering Open up, Reach out.

Essex GP Dr Caroline Dollery, Clinical Director of the East of England Strategic Clinical Network for Mental Health, said: “The Southend, Essex and Thurrock plan stands out, firstly because it has gone to great lengths to listen to young people and build a very different service around what they say. Secondly, because of its ambition to bring specialist expertise out of old style clinics and closer to children, families and schools at a much earlier stage.

“There is significant evidence that in around 75% of adults with mental health illness, the problems start before the age of 18.

“Open up, Reach out gets to the heart of the matter by building resilience in children and young people, in families, schools and other places. It starts with the right information being easily available, instant help and advice, in some instances via the web, and easy access to professional support, including training for schools.”

Essex County Councillor Dick Madden, Cabinet Member for Adults and Children, said: “Nationally, it is estimated that only one in four children and young people who need help are actually receiving a service. This is also what we found in Essex.

“We are tackling the stigma that prevents young people seeking help. We also need to move away from old-style clinics and get our services into familiar places. Support in schools is something our young people have said they want.

“Our children and young people have said we don’t know enough about mental health or the services available. More knowledge and skills within our communities could save young lives.”

Clare Morris, lead NHS commissioner for children’s mental health and Chief Officer of NHS West Essex CCG, said: “Open up, Reach out is currently the biggest transformation in progress across health and social care in Southend, Essex and Thurrock. We are one of a very few areas in the country to combine our funds and create a countywide emotional wellbeing and mental health service for children and young people.

“With a single service and pooled resources we can achieve bigger and better things. As well as an increase in services, we are building a cultural revolution that makes mental health everybody’s business.”

The improvement plan and additional money for emotional wellbeing and mental health services for children and young people is in addition to the recent investment pledge made by the Prime Minister for all mental health services across the country.

Download the shorter version of Open up, Reach out

Download the full version of Open Up, Reach out

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