“It was great to work alongside educational psychologists, psychiatrists, teachers and Public Health consultants who all shared a passion for improving services for children and young people’s mental health.”
Walsall Healthcare’s professional lead for School Nursing Sallyann Sutton has been playing a key role in shaping mental health support for young people nationally as a member of a short term working group – The Expert Reference Group which has been instrumental in developing a manual to support the implementation of Mental Health Support Teams (MHSTs) in schools and colleges.
Sallyann, who has worked for Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust for more than 30 years, said: “This was a short term working group which contributed to the successful production of a manual of operating principles to support the delivery of the Mental Health Support Teams in Schools.
“MHSTs bring together the worlds of health and education and as a School Nurse I am used to bridging the gap between these two worlds; understanding each one’s strengths and challenges. This has stood me in good stead to positively contribute to the discussions that cumulated in the development of the manual which gives a framework for this multi-agency programme.
“It was great to work alongside educational psychologists, psychiatrists, teachers and Public Health consultants who all shared a passion for improving services for children and young people mental health. There was more commonality than difference.
“Particularly pertinent as we mark Children’s Mental Health Week, I found the richest learning and the thing that provoked most thought was working alongside the experts by experience – those young people who have experienced mental health problems and used services. Some with good experiences and others with poor experience. Listening to them and learning from them is so important if we are to get things right in the future.
“The MHST is a national programme and Walsall joins this as a phase 3 trailblazer. I can now bring back my experience and learning from being part of the expert reference group and use this to help shape this programme in Walsall. I am excited to be working with colleagues in Educational Psychology and CAMHS to make a difference for children and young people locally.”
Sallyann is currently working as a Topic Expert for NICE Public Health Guidance and is part of a committee that has just developed the Alcohol Education in Schools and is now working on the Social, Emotional and Mental Wellbeing in Primary and Secondary Education guidance.
She added: “It is exciting to be working alongside other public health professionals, academics and experts by experience to shape this guidance which aims to provide best practice guidance and evidence to help schools support children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing.”