Trial to combine young people’s mental health and education services in Suffolk

Dan Poulter, health minister and MP for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich

Dan Poulter, health minister and MP for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich - Credit: Archant

A new approach to caring for young people with mental health needs will be piloted in Suffolk, it has been announced.

The Government has handed £1.4million to specialist mental health, education and care provider Priory Group to trial the project with Suffolk County Council.

Priory Group said the service will unite education, health and social care experts in one new residential home to help reduce admissions to mental health wards by integrating youngsters back into mainstream schools, colleges and the workplace at the earliest opportunity.

It is not yet clear where the home will be based, but the group intends to run it as an 18-month trial before possible expansion across England.

Chief executive Tom Riall said: “We are delighted to have been chosen as one of the Department for Education’s innovation fund partners.

“Our integrated approach will help young people with serious mental health issues receive the support they need close to home, allowing them to live full lives in their communities, in mainstream education and in the workplace.”

Priory Group, which is best known for treating celebrities in rehabilitation for addiction, runs 35 hospitals and 26 schools and colleges, providing education for more than 1,000 pupils with challenging emotional and behavioural difficulties.

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The new project home been labelled a “safe haven” for families struggling with mental health problems.

It will combine intensive round-the-clock mental health treatment and help ensure young people with severe mental health problems are not sent out of area for support, keeping families together during times of crisis and out of locked mental health wards.

Suffolk MP and health minister Dan Poulter said: “This is very good news for Suffolk and for children and families of children with special education needs and other mental health problems.

“A joined up approach can help more children stay in education and training and receive support in their own homes and communities.

“Far too often in the past they have been forced to travel to other counties to receive care. Thanks to this investment, that will change to the benefit of many children and families.

“It will be helpful in providing support during the period of transition between schools and the workplace, which can be particularly challenging.”

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