Chorley and South Ribble areas launch national programme to promote children and young people’s mental health

Children struggling with mental health in Central Lancashire are to benefit from better services and support as a major national initiative is rolled out this week.

The Link Programme is a national programme which aims to help health and education professionals to work more closely together so that children get the help they need, when they need it.

Every school and college in the Chorley and South Ribble areas are invited to attend as part of a drive to provide timely and appropriate support to children and young people.

Led by the Anna Freud Centre, and funded by the Department for Education, the Link Programme brings together professionals in a series of workshops to help schools and colleges understand when children and young people need support and to refer them as soon as their needs are identified.

Health professionals will share their learning to help education identify what support is available.

The four-year scheme has been piloted and tested over the last four years on 1,500 schools and colleges.

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 disorder in adulthood. This package of measures 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.

Janet Ince, Mental Health Lead, Chorley and South Ribble Clinical Commissioning Group, said: 

“This is a really important project and one that will make a major difference to children in Central Lancashire who are struggling with mental health. It will also give schools and colleges the confidence to identify children and young people in need of support and to sign post them to where they can get help.

“By offering expert mental health training in schools and identifying illness earlier we can help thousands more families to get the help they need to take care of their children.”

Professor Peter Fonagy, CEO of the Anna Freud Centre, noted:

“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 Central Lancashire 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.”