A national inspection has found that children in Milton Keynes have access to a wide range of effective mental health support services.
School based training via the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), creative and engaged workers within the council’s Youth Offending Team, collaborative partnerships between local agencies and a strong network of 17 council children’s centres were just some of the areas highlighted for praise.
During October, Ofsted, the Care Quality Commission (CQC), HMI Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) and HMI Probation (HMI Prob) carried out a joint inspection of children’s social care, youth and community services across Milton Keynes alongside schools, police, and health providers. Inspectors looked at how local services respond to children and their families when children are living with mental ill health.
Cllr Zoe Nolan, Cabinet Member for Children and Families said: “I’m really proud of the strong partnerships across Milton Keynes and how we work together to support our most vulnerable young people. Mental health is an area that touches every family and something that should always remain a priority. We are not complacent and will continue to work closely with schools, health professionals and the police to ensure that we offer the right support at the earliest opportunities.”
Some of the local initiatives seen by the inspectors are:
MK’s early support project (ESP) which focuses on engaging children at the earliest possible stage to reduce the likelihood of their entering the youth justice system. Since April 2018, more than 120 children have accessed the ESP and just three have reoffended, and the number of children entering the youth justice system has dropped by around a quarter.
98% of MK schools have a mental health lead, and nine in ten governing bodies have a mental health champion.
Unlike in some other areas of the UK, Milton Keynes Council has maintained its 17 children’s centres which offer comprehensive services including youth information and counselling sessions.
Earlier this year, a new anonymous and free service launched for young people aged 10-20 in MK. Kooth.com provides advice and access to professional counsellors as well as peer-to-peer support, with topics from exam stress and anxiety to eating disorders and grief.
An action plan is being developed to build on the strong performance and progress.