THOUSANDS of children in Farnham and Haslemere are to be given more access to mental health support and therapy at school under a scheme trialled by Surrey County Council.

The Weydon Multi Academy Trust (MAT) – encompassing 3,572 children at The Abbey, Weydon, Ridgeway and Heath End schools in Farnham, and Woolmer Hill School in Haslemere – has been chosen as an ‘accelerator site’ for the county council’s emotional wellbeing and mental health transformation programme.

Surrey County Council’s Children and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) contract has come under close scrutiny these past two years after fears for the time children were waiting for assessments to access help were raised.

A review of the contract with Surrey and Borders Partnership NHS Foundation Trust was carried out last year and an interim plan was put in place to deal with a backlog of around 2,000 youngsters waiting for access to support. 

But councillors were told last week the contract with Surrey and Borders Partnership has been extended until 2021 to give a transformation of the service a chance to take place before a new contract is commissioned. 

Major changes that are already being worked on include better access to information, employing primary mental health workers to go into schools and work closely with teachers and parents, a more robust multi-agency approach, and residential provision for those reaching crisis point if needed. 

Under the transformation, four clusters of schools – called accelerator sites – have been established to allow children and families to access support closer to home. 

The county council will test how providing earlier intervention in a school setting supports children and it’s hoped this will lower the need for more help as they grow up. 

Expert staff will be drafted into the cluster of schools involved to deliver services.