BOND: Improving early intervention mental health support for children
Kim Levan and Katie Bennett-Hall
Since April this year, the BOND team have been busy delivering a programme of support in the Tees Valley to develop the capacity of the voluntary and community sector to deliver early mental health interventions for children and young people. The programme is funded by the Department for Education and is the first of 5 pilots being rolled out across the country over a two-year period.
BOND was launched in Tees Valley by Councillor Mike Carr, Children and Young People’s Lead in Middlesbrough. Gill Rollings, Director of Children, Family and Learning at Middlesbrough Council said: “We are very excited to be a part of the BOND programme and working with schools and other organisations across Tees Valley. We are please to be part of this pilot which we believe will lead the way in developing new and effective ways of working to improve children and young people’s emotional and mental health.”
The programme has been delivered through a series of five workshops, complementary bespoke support and the development of tailored information and resources. Voluntary and Community Organisations (VCOs), commissioners and schools have come together to share information and work collaboratively to develop their ability to deliver appropriate and effective mental health support for children and young people.
The content of the workshops was agreed with the participants from Tees Valley, to ensure it hit the right spot in terms of meeting local needs and fitting in with local strategic planning priorities. Key themes of the workshops included:
- Understanding the policy and funding environment in children and young people’s mental health and how to make the most of current opportunities
- Understanding how the commissioning and delivery system works, priorities of commissioners and what VCOs can offer as service providers
- Developing the VCSO’s ability to market their services, demonstrate value for money and outcomes measures and develop quality bids
- Developing confidence within the NHS, Local Authorities and Schools to commission VCSOs to provide services in children and young people’s mental healt.
In addition to the core workshops, there were further opportunities for participating organisations to explore and build upon these themes - through working groups, schools cluster workshops and one-to-one coaching sessions.
The main aim of the programme was to increase the choice and quality of early intervention mental health services and support available to the young people in Tees Valley, including those services being commissioned and delivered in schools. The 23 organisations plus three school clusters that have taken part in the programme are already able to demonstrate the changes in their work.
Some of the voluntary organisations are already seeing an increase in their funding, to enable them to deliver additional services to the children and young people in Tees Valley. They will be using what they have learned on the BOND programme directly influence how they deliver these services.
What schools have said...
- "BOND has given schools a chance to consider the mental health needs of their pupils whilst building relationships with commissioners and providers."
What NHS and LA Commissioners said…
- "There is a general increased awareness of what the VCS is delivering and a desire for more contracted relationships and closer working in general."
- "I’ve found out that ‘our children’ are accessing services I didn’t even know existed."
What the VCSOs said….
- "BOND has made us think about how we position the VCS in the future to be more in the driving seat rather than the back seat!"
- The whole process has been incredibly valuable for our organisation and helped us prepare for a difficult future. All VCOs should have this opportunity.
- The learning from BOND has truly enhanced our strategic and operational understanding of the VCS working intelligently with education and health commissioners.
As well as sharing expertise from the BOND Consortium to VCOs and Commissioners in Tees Valley, the workshops and support have also been a learning experience for the BOND team. This will inform the delivery of the further four pilots BOND will run across the country, starting in September.