Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) in Schools – Islington

 Islington CAMHS has been working with Islington secondary schools since 2013 and primary schools since 2011.

Service

The standard service is:

  • 1 day per week to Secondary Schools
  • 0.5 days (Half a day) per fortnight to Primary Schools

The main functions of the childhood and adolescent mental health service (CAMHS) link worker are:

  • Working with children and families who have been hard to engage with more formal CAMHS arrangements
  • Early intervention and prevention
  • Consultation for school staff
  • Training for staff
  • Working with groups of children or parents on specific issues relevant to the school
  • Initial screening for autism/ neurodevelopmental disorders

In addition, CAMHS received additional funding to provide training to school staff on the Solihull approach. This training requires the school to use a full day through their inset days. So far approximately 2/3 of schools have been able to take this up.

All the clinicians within CAMHS are linked with at least one school.

There is a requirement that the school will have a named link member of staff.

Many schools, particularly secondary schools will also be commissioning additional counselling services.

Islington has commissioned a Child Wellbeing Practitioner Service and they will also be linked to schools going forward.

Positives

  • Schools report that they greatly value the special relationship with named and visible CAMHS staff
  • It has proved a very effective way of working with children and families who were previously hard to engage with more traditional appointment arrangements
  • There is an improvement in the quality of referrals to CAMHS from schools, leading to fewer unsuccessful referrals
  • Much better information sharing between the agencies
  • Greater understanding of mental health issues amongst school staff
  • Supports reflective practice
  • Support to schools and advice when commissioning additional services such as counselling

Challenges

  • The logistics of maintaining links across a large and fluid staff team. Experience has shown that 3 school links per member of staff is the maximum number
  • Joining two different cultures – some issues about confidentiality (although the service itself offers the best method of addressing this issue)
  • Clinicians can be quite isolated within the school setting
  • Facilities and appropriate space within schools

Funding arrangements

The service is funded through the Schools Forum, by a strategic use of the High Needs Block, which means that there is a basic agreed service to all schools. If individual schools wish to commission a supplementary service, this can be negotiated.

There is an annual report back to the Schools Forum on the progress of the service as part of the decision to continue with the commissioning of the service.

iMHARS – Islington Mental Health and Resilience in Schools

Islington has developed a framework to support schools’ thinking in relation to mental health and resilience: iMHARS (Islington mental health and resilience in schools).  www.islingtoncs.org/imhars   iMHARS describes a whole-school approach to mental health and resilience. The iMHARS framework helps schools to understand the seven aspects (components) of school life that can support and contribute to pupils’ positive mental health and resilience.

The seven components have been distilled from a wide body of evidence and have been developed and tested in Islington schools.

Schools are supported to use iMHARS to research their current practice; identify where things are working well, areas for improvement and next steps. Schools are encouraged to reflect on what support is in place to meet the needs of all pupils; for the most vulnerable pupils, for those at risk, and preventative measures for all pupils.  To date 25 schools have been supported to carry out a collaborative audit with the mental health lead in the health and wellbeing team (part of the school improvement service).

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