COMMERCIAL: Work has begun on a £9.6m specialist children’s mental health unit has begun at North Essex Partnership FT.

Building firm ISG Jackson has been contracted to for the project to build the new unit close to the old Severalls Hospital site at Boxted Road Colchester.

A press release said the unit will have two wards, a garden area and special “pods” for family therapy and ‘contemplation’ and a multi-purpose pitch for sports. It is expected to be completed in March 2012.

Chief executive Andrew Geldard said: “This is a great day – we are investing money we’ve raised and are raising the standard of inpatient care. Half of those with mental health problems experience symptoms before the age of 14. This is an important building and an important treatment centre.”