A NETWORK of mental health teams will be working in schools in County Durham in a bid to improve young people's wellbeing.

NHS England has awarded the funding to allow specialist teams to start working in areas of County Durham next year.

About 10,000 young people in County Durham, about 10 per cent of the total, have a mental health disorder, according to data held by Public Health England.

Councillor Lucy Hovvels, Durham County Council's cabinet member for adult and health services, said: “We know around one in ten children in County Durham have a diagnosable mental health disorder and tackling persistent inequalities and adversity in childhood are key priorities for us.

“Supporting more vulnerable children as early as possible is central to our strategic approach to improving life chances and the creation of these teams will allow us to do exactly that.”

It is hoped the funding will help specialists identify children who are struggling and offer targeted support.

They will also the senior mental health lead in each school or college to introduce or develop their whole school or college approach.

County Durham was one of 57 areas across the county which was awarded the funding and will be one of the first waves of the scheme to be rolled out in 2020.

The application was made by Durham County Council, NHS North Durham Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), NHS Durham Dales, Easington and Sedgefield CCG, Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust (TEWV), Investing in Children and Rollercoaster, a parent-peer support programme.

Mike Brierley, director lead for mental health at both North Durham and Durham Dales, Easington and Sedgefield CCGs, said: “This is great news for our children and young people in County Durham.

“To have support directly into schools will make such a huge difference for the children, school staff and families.

"This is coupled with being able to access an online counselling and emotional well-being platform for children and young people, which will be available for the new school term in September."

Michelle Trainer, head of child and adolescent mental health services at TEWV in County Durham, said: “Poor emotional and psychological well-being can have a negative impact on many areas of a young person’s life, including their academic achievement.

“This new funding will enable mental health specialists to more easily identify young people who are experiencing difficulties and offer targeted, effective support at the earliest opportunity, helping to improve outcomes for individuals and their families.”

Cllr Olwyn Gunn, the council’s cabinet member for children and young people’s services, added: “Strengthening the links between education and health services will reduce any delays in a young person receiving help and the fact it is being delivered in the familiar environment of their school or college can only be of benefit.”