By December of next year, all county mental health services will accept children and adolescents within four weeks of referral.

Both have emerged after the NHS Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), which plans and purchases health services in the county, received government funding for two elements of the pioneering pilot project.

Northumberland was one of just two CCGs funded nationwide for mental health support teams (MHSTs) in school pilots and waiting time pilots.

Kate O'Brien, chief executive officer of the CCG's Child Health, Mental Health and Learning Difficulties Commission, said this success was due to Northumberland's proven approach to collaboration. Principles of the pilot & # 39 ;.

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She explained that the MHSTs piloted in Blyth and Hexham are aiming to help children with "lower level mental health problems".

"So that children can access help earlier, before problems and concerns develop to a higher level that would require intervention by a mental health care service," she said.

Kate added that the goal of a four-week waiting period is important, as there have been long wait times in Northumberland in the past and all providers have worked "tirelessly" to reduce them over the last 18 months.

"Taking the opportunity to create the best conditions to see children faster with a substantial amount of money was very welcome, and we have already seen a significant reduction in the number of children waiting for access to services across Northumberland," she said.

The average waiting time is now about 6.8 weeks, while some children have temporarily waited up to 30 weeks, although most were seen within 18 weeks.

The other goal is to reduce the number of people with whom children come into contact before they are put on the right track for treatment and support. There are also discussions about a single access point.

The focus on children and adolescents in these and other projects is important for several reasons, Kate said.

"Northumberland as a system is making every effort to ensure that children have the best start in life, which is one of the strategies we have signed and which we really want to implement over the next five years," she said.

"The evidence is that one in four people suffers from a mental health problem and many of these problems have their origins in childhood. Therefore, one has to understand the negative experiences in childhood and the trauma that can lead to it, by making sure that children are so resilient. If possible we can eliminate some of the problems that can last into adulthood and become more acute and chronic.

"We reflect the national picture that more and more children are reporting themselves and being referred to psychiatric services.

"We know that children today are under a lot of pressure for a variety of reasons that can lead to mental health issues, such as: Anxiety, bad mood, insomnia and failure to achieve important life goals, such as passing exams.

"We have more and more children who have access to our services, but we are also aware that there are children who do not have access to psychiatric services that are supported by their schools and their parents or caregivers, and from an early targeted Advice would benefit. "

However, the flip side of the rising numbers is that this suggests that young people are more willing to admit that they have a problem and seek help than they may have in the past.

"All mental health awareness campaigns, especially among younger people, have helped to destigmatize mental health and encouraged children and young people to get in touch and talk about things that affect them," said Kate.

For more information on mental health care and well-being, and details on finding help, visit https://www.nhs.uk/oneyou/every-mind-matters/.