The Health Foundation is funding a project showing school nurses how to recognise and manage mental health problems in young people

According to Rethink, between 10 and 20 per cent of children and young people have a mental health problem, some of whom have a severe mental illness. As part of its Engaging with Quality in Primary Care scheme, the Health Foundation is funding a project that provides school nurses with training and support in learning how to recognise and manage mental health problems at school.

'We know that a significant proportion of young people will have mental health problems and that when they do, they don't come to general practice or primary care for help,' says project lead Andre Tylee from the Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London. 'We need to be able to spot that children are having problems earlier in the place where they're at most, which is at school.'

Getting to the problems earlier

Beginning with Sutton and Merton Primary Care Trust, the project team will train up school nurses to be better at recognising, referring and managing children with mental health problems. The team also wants to develop more support systems for school nurses as a professional group.

If the project is successful, young people with mental health problems will get spotted much earlier and receive more effective treatment. 'This will help them in several ways,' Andre explains. 'It will help their quality of life, their attainment at school, their health in general and their emotional well being.'

For more about Engaging with Quality in Primary Care, visit: http://www.health.org.uk/ourawards/clinicians/index.cfm?id=75