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Early evaluation of the Children and Young People’s Mental Health Trailblazer

 

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Thursday, 15 July 2021

Early evaluation of the Children and Young People’s Mental Health Trailblazer

The Birmingham, RAND and Cambridge Evaluation Centre (BRACE) is funded by the National Institute for Health Research to conduct rapid evaluation of promising new services and innovations in health and social care. The BRACE Rapid Evaluation Centre and Policy Innovation and Evaluation Research Unit have published findings from the early evaluation of the Children and Young People’s Mental Health Trailblazer programme.

The BRACE Rapid Evaluation Centre and Policy Innovation and Evaluation Research Unit have published initial findings from the early evaluation of the Children and Young People’s Mental Health Trailblazer programme  – a national programme aiming to improve support for mental health and wellbeing within schools and further education colleges.

The evaluation is exploring the experiences of the first wave of mental health support teams (MHSTs) and education mental health practitioners (EMHPs), which are working with more than a thousand schools and colleges across England. The early evaluation seeks to explore the development, implementation and progress of the MHSTs in the first 25 areas participating in the programme (known as Trailblazer sites). The interim report shares findings from surveys, interviews and an analysis of programme monitoring data.

Key findings from the interim report include:

  • Schools and colleges welcomed the funding of additional capacity to provide in-house mental health support, and the programme's focus on prevention and early intervention.
  • Participants raised concerns about remaining gaps in support, especially for children and young people whose needs were not ‘mild to moderate’ (the group that the teams are designed to support) but also not serious enough to meet the referral criteria for specialist services.
  • The new EMHP role and training programme had proven popular, but retaining EMHPs once in post was widely reported as a challenge.

A summary of the interim report is available along with further information about the evaluation. The final report from the early evaluation will be published in summer 2022.