Major funding boost of £4.3m for school-based mental health services in south west London

  • Support for 56,000 more children and parents to encourage better mental health and wellbeing
  • Mental health teams to be rolled out to more schools and further education colleges across south west London
  • New projects to focus on BAME young people who have suffered trauma, those with special educational needs and disabilities and serious violence

The NHS in south west London has come together with local schools and Councils to successfully bid for an additional £4.3m of national funding to improve mental health services for children and young people, it was announced today

The local programme, which began in January 2018 and is led by the South West London Health and Care Partnership, is delivering mental health support and training for children and young people, their families and teachers.

The funding, in addition to £1.85m received last year, will support the rollout of more mental health support teams over the next two years – increasing the number of young people who will to have access to the support they provide from 25,000 to 81,000, around half of all pupils in south west London.

Clinical lead for the programme and Merton GP, Dr Andrew Murray said:

“Working more closely with schools has completely changed the way we look at improving the mental health of our young people – the pressures they live with are growing and changing and we have to adapt to support them. I continue to be inspired by the enthusiasm of the schools involved and their dedication to the wellbeing of their pupils.”


Dr Murray added: We want to help children and their parents talk about mental health and overcome challenges from a young age. This funding will allow us to work quicker and at a greater scale, in order to bring about the real change young people have told us they want to see.

Part of the money will be used to expand existing mental health support teams in clusters of primary and secondary schools in Croydon, Kingston and Richmond which are focusing on building emotional resilience of children and young people through early intervention. Teams will also begin working in further education colleges across all south west London boroughs.

Patrick Shields, Head Teacher at St Mary’s Catholic High School in Croydon said:

This extra funding is absolutely fabulous news for schools across Croydon. In an increasingly pressurised society, it’s really important we support young people with their mental health. At St Mary’s we are focusing on improving emotional wellbeing – and this additional resource means our families and pupils will have access to more direct help from qualified professionals.


Siobhan Lowe, Head Teacher at Tolworth Girls’ School in Kingston said:

We are absolutely delighted to be part of this project, it has enabled us to develop a real understanding of the mental health needs of all pupils across all phases of education. We are developing strong networks in order to educate our parents, pupils and staff so we can develop resilience, not reliance, in our young people. This is a much needed resource that we will use to spread the excellent practice already in schools and enable us to work hand-in-hand with fellow professionals to change the lives of the pupils in our care.

The ‘support workers’ offer both one-to-one support and group-work sessions for pupils and parents. Where needed, they will also signpost or refer to specialist child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS). The sessions focus on practical skills for managing a range of feelings and offer parents an opportunity to practise conversations that encourage better mental health and wellbeing. The ambition of the programme is that teams will eventually be in place in all schools in south west London.

The funding will also mean new mental health support teams can be created in additional schools with new areas of focus around reducing inequalities in health:

  • Reducing serious youth violence in schools in Croydon
  • Mental health early intervention for special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) in selected special schools in Merton and Sutton
  • Supporting young people from a BAME background who have suffered trauma in Wandsworth

Below is a short film featuring Dr Andrew Murray highlighting the benefits of the additional funding:

Notes to editors:

  • The funding forms part of the Government’s ambitious plans to transform children and young people’s mental health through the NHS Long Term Plan. The Department for Education confirmed today that 124 new Mental Health Support Teams will be created in 48 areas across the country.
  • The South West London Health and Care Partnership, which is comprised of the organisations providing health and care in the six south west London boroughs, has made children and young people’s mental health and well-being its shared health promotion and prevention priority.
  • Since January 2018, we have come together as a children and young people’s partnership group, made up of Head Teachers, GPs, mental health professionals, health and social care professionals and the voluntary sector from across south west London – people on the front-line who work with children every day.
  • We have listened to young people, their families, teachers and front line professionals to develop a ‘whole school’ approach – bringing school leadership teams together with health and social care professionals to deliver training and support for children and young people, their families and teachers.
  • We are also putting in place new online services which pupils of the selected schools across south west London will be able to access. The new online services will be available later this year – including a directory of services and online one-to-one counselling.
  • We are also rolling out Mental Health First Aid training for teachers and a course for parents called Empowering Parents Empowering Communities will be available towards the end of the year.