• Department of Health and Social Care announces seven providers to offer new mental health qualification
  • The institutions will offer a new mental health practitioner course to train up to 8,000 new staff
  • These will form the new mental health support teams to treat children and young people with mental health problems
  • The £209m investment will come from the new cash pledged for the NHS by prime minister Theresa May

The government has given the green light for seven institutions to train thousands of new staff to support children and young people with mental health problems.

The announcement forms part of plans to invest nearly £210m to create new mental health support teams to support schoolchildren with mental health problems.

The Department of Health and Social Care has selected seven higher education providers to offer a new mental health practitioner course from next year.

The £209m will be used to train up to 8,000 practitioners to work in the new support teams which were pledged in the children and young people’s mental health green paper published last year.

Once in post, the 8,000 new staff will more than double the existing NHS CYP mental health workforce.

The new staff will form part of the NHS long term plan due in November, and will be paid for using some of the 3.4 per cent NHS funding increase promised by prime minister Theresa May.

The seven institutions to offer the new course will be the:

  • University of Reading;
  • University of Northumbria at Newcastle;
  • Greater Manchester Mental Health CBT Training Centre;
  • Kings College London;
  • University College London;
  • University of Northampton; and
  • University of Exeter.

Health Education England will be developing the new course in time for the first intake of students in January, with recruitment beginning in the autumn.

The first mental health support teams are expected to go live in pilot “trailblazer” sites, including NHS organisations, local authorities, schools and charities by December 2019.

The practitioners will treat children and young people with mild to moderate mental health problems in school and help those with more severe problems access specialist NHS services.

These sites will be announced this autumn, and rolled out to between a quarter and a fifth of the population by the end of 2022-23.

The department said it will also take forward proposals in the green paper for designated health leads in schools and colleges and to pilot a new four week waiting time target to access specialist CYP mental health services.

New health and social care secretary Matt Hancock said: “By creating a dedicated new workforce in schools, which when in post could equate to more than the entire total current child and young person’s mental health NHS workforce, we will support each and every child in fulfilling their potential as we transform mental health services in this country.”

The announcement was welcomed by the charity YoungMinds, but its chief executive Emma Thomas warned more cash was needed for specialist NHS services.

Emma Thomas said: “The measures announced in the Green Paper are a step in the right direction, but they won’t solve the crisis.

”We welcome Theresa May’s commitment to make mental health a priority, but this needs to translate into extra funding for specialist services and a comprehensive plan to ensure that every young person with a mental health problem gets the help they need.”