New school health services are being rolled out in Kent which will see greater access for children and young people to support for physical and mental health issues.
Kent County Council has awarded two new contracts – the Primary School Public Health Service and the Adolescent and Targeted Emotional Wellbeing Service – to Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust (KCHFT).
The new contracts for school-age children were drawn up after consultation with people using and working with the services. It will start on 1 April and parents, children, young people and schools will notice a variety of improvements over the next couple of months including:
- increased opening hours from 8am until 6pm, Monday to Friday
- easier access with one number, email and online referral to contact the service
- uniforms to make the school health team more visible
- increased drop ins at schools, youth clubs and community venues
- for children and young people, with web chat.
Kent County Council’s Director of Public Health, Andrew Scott-Clark said: “These new services recognise the need for all children, young people and their families to be able to access advice and information around their own health in a simple and convenient way. They will continue to work with existing programmes to tackle health issues such as obesity, while providing more opportunities for pupils to also find guidance around other physical and mental health and wellbeing issues.”
Tina Owen, Head of School Health and Immunisations Services at KCHFT, said: “We talked to lots of children, parents, families and schools to design our services for the future and they will notice lots of improvements during the coming months. One of the things we were told was that our school health teams needed to raise their profile and children would like to see them in brightly-coloured polo shirts. As well as new uniforms, there is also one number so it’s easy to contact the service no matter where you are in Kent.
“During the next couple of months, we will be inviting children and young people to work with us to design a website that supports not only their physical health but their emotional wellbeing too with advice on everything from health eating to coping with exam stress.
“We will be increasing our range of drop-in sessions in schools, youth clubs and community venues, as well as extending our hours from 8am until 6pm, Monday to Friday so more children, young people and families can get the help and support they need.”
As part of the services, KCHFT will run the National Child Measurement Programme, measuring and weighing children in reception and year 6, vision and hearing screening in reception, as well as health questionnaires, which can be completed online, in years 10 and 12.
Tina added: “With our partners, CXK, we will also be providing targeted emotional wellbeing support to primary and secondary school-age children, who may be experiencing problems around issues such as weight, relationships or bereavement. It’s important to stress that children who are home-schooled or not in full-time education can still access our support if they are aged four to 19.”
Referrals to the service can be made now via one number, email or online:
Phone: 0300 123 4496 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information, go to www.kentcht.nhs.uk/school-health
Kent County Council 18 April 2017