NEW mental health support teams will be introduced at local schools to help students cope with stress and anxiety.

The NHS Swindon Clinical Commissioning Group has secured £2.3 million to provide schools with mental health support practitioner trainees from the University of Exeter.

Eleven of them will be visiting schools and colleges across the town after the Easter holidays, offering support and treatments including counselling sessions and cognitive behaviour therapy.

For the first phase, five schools have been selected – Abbey Park Academy, Lydiard Park Academy, Swindon Academy, Lawn Manor Academy and Swindon College.

David Williams, assistant principal at the Park Academies Trust said: “We are receiving two trainees from Exeter University at Lydiard Academy and two at Abbey Academy.

“We are going to work closely with children and their families to support them and help them deal with mental health issues.

“It’s a three-year programme and NHS hopes to expand it across the UK.

“We are very excited to be part of the pilot. It is a great opportunity for us and also for the families.”

Barnardo’s, an organisation supporting vulnerable children, has been commissioned to lead the project until 2021.

And Swindon is one of only seven areas chosen by the Department for Education and the Department of Health and Social Care to implement the project and improve children’s mental health.

Hundreds of children in Swindon already benefit from mental health services.

Ruth Robinson, executive principal at Swindon Academy said: “We are thrilled to be selected at this stage of the programme. It has not started yet, but we are looking forward to it.”

The trainees will visit schools one day a week to deliver support for children dealing with mild to moderate mental health issues.

Their interventions will gradually increase as the pilot progresses and the project aims to engage other schools across Swindon at a later date.

Swindon CCG will set up an information event for school leads on how the teams will work within their premises. The CCG team is also expanding to support the project.

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