A day in the life of a Mental Health Support Team

Rose Ackland from Portsmouth CAMHS Mental Health Support Team shares her experience working as an Education Mental Health Practitioner:

“The Mental Health Support Team aim to offer support for children and young people who have an anxiety or low mood presentation. We are able to offer early intervention to prevent further mental health presentations and we are currently linked to the majority of schools in Portsmouth. We hold regular consultations with school staff to discuss any mental health concerns they may have regarding any of the children in their schools. For children under the age of 12, we offer parent led work either 1:1 or in a group setting where we meet weekly for six to eight weeks following the Cathy Creswell approach ‘Helping my Child with Fears and Worries’. These sessions are delivered by ‘Education Mental Health Practitioners’ like me.

For young people over the age of 12, we use low intensity cognitive behavioural therapy to support and provide techniques through self-help interventions such as: worry management, cognitive restructuring, graded exposure, and behavioural activation. We use a stepped care model to establish whether a child or young person needs to be stepped up to high intensity cognitive therapy, Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) or whether another service would be more beneficial. We are patient centred at all times and include young people and families in these decisions.

Through our school consultations we are able to offer a whole school approach by delivering workshops to parents, children and teaching staff. We have offered coffee mornings for parents to come and discuss any mental health concerns regarding their child, which have proven to be really useful in some schools. We have also started to deliver assemblies to help children to recognise their feelings and explore simple coping strategies to help them manage those feelings.

As part of my role, I have recently worked with a young person who was not able to enjoy the things they used to and would come home from school and hide away in their bedroom and not interact with their family or friends at all. They had a low mood presentation which started during the COVID-19 lockdowns. We saw each other every week for six weeks and worked through the behavioural activation treatment, which focuses on doing activities to feel better (working from the outside in). We were able to establish what the young person valued in their life and took small steps to plan activities into each week that would slowly build their confidence and raise their mood. By the end of our six weeks, they were able to walk their dog every day and hang out with friends more.

I know it sounds cheesy, but I really do feel like the luckiest person to do the job I do and work in a team that is all about helping young people. Mental health matters and is everyone’s business so I am thrilled to be part of spreading this message!”

You can find out more about the role of Mental Health Support Teams by visiting our dedicated webpage.

Information about the SEMH pathways to support available in Portsmouth can be found in our new guidance for professionals and families.

Ukraine: education resources and support


Update from the Ethnic Minority Achievement Service, April 2022

As you probably know, there are no new arrivals in the city from Ukraine at the moment. There were only a handful of families here before the Russian invasion, so it is unlikely that we’ll see many people arrive in the first ‘wave’.

However, as the government’s scheme to sponsor a Ukrainian family fleeing the war progresses, we will start to see more new arrivals. Portsmouth City Council as a whole is working hard to get preparations in place and there is funding from central government for councils for this plus an additional amount for schools (similar to that available for pupils arriving from Afghanistan in ‘Operation Warm Welcome’); the amount is still currently unspecified, I believe.

However, guidance was recently released to local authorities around the expectation of their role. This information has been reviewed and impacts upon different areas of the council identified. Currently the volume and rate of arrivals is still unclear although PCC hope to have more information about that in due course. The support needed for each sponsor/guest pairing is expected to be significant and wide ranging. The challenge is the pace of delivery. Once more information becomes available, and we get a picture of the scale and complexity of the work, more details can be provided.

We at EMAS are monitoring the situation carefully and are about to start the process of employing a Ukrainian BLA. There will necessarily be a delay for recruitment processes but, by waiting a little, there will be a larger pool of applicants from which to choose and we will also know the scale of the need. In the meantime, we have our existing Russian BLA, Olga Barker, who can support any Russian-speaking pupils and parents – although we will obviously be sensitive in her deployment. She is already doing important work with children across the city, several of whom have parents from both Ukraine and Russia and who are obviously finding the current situation especially challenging. There are over 100 Russian-speaking pupils in our schools but there are reports from neighbouring authorities that the numbers are rising, with families wanting to leave Russia.

In the city, there are also children whose families come from countries bordering either Ukraine or Russia itself and who may also be feeling particularly vulnerable, picking up on any stress that adults in their families might well be experiencing at the moment. We have almost 700 Polish-speaking pupils in Portsmouth, more than 400 Romanians, 100 Hungarian-speakers and over 150 other pupils from other neighbouring countries such as Slovakia, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Finland. The ongoing conflict will be especially ‘close’ for them.

EMAS are able to provide support and advice to subscribing schools. If you do not currently subscribe and would like to do so please visit the traded services website.

A day in the life of an ELSA

Kelly-Jayne Jones from Newbridge Junior School shares her experience working as an ELSA:

“Emotional Literacy Support Assistants, along with other support staff, provide a safe environment to offer children emotional support. Whether this be through 1:1 sessions on helping them take turns, play well with others, understanding their triggers or being part of a bereavement group. ELSA is done differently in school settings to suit the children’s needs.

In my school, I support children when they first get into school by welcoming them into the school building or checking in with them during the morning to make sure they are settled. I help them in their classroom to regulate their emotions so they are able to focus on their school work.

I have children for 1:1 sessions where together we think of strategies to help support them to prevent dysregulation and support them with steps they can take before they get to the coke bottle explosion!

I also run a service children group, where once a week, we all get together and talk about how they are feeling when loved ones are deployed. They all help each other when they are finding it hard by giving each other coping mechanisms and making each other laugh!

It is a very rewarding job and I love seeing the positive impact it has on the children.”

ELSAs are part of the school based support available to children and young people for their social, emotional and mental health (SEMH). You can find out more about the role of ELSAs on the Portsmouth SEND Local Offer website.

Information about the SEMH pathways to support available in Portsmouth can be found in our new guidance for professionals and families.

Triple P

Triple P discussion groups for parents/carers

Triple P discussion groups are two and half hour sessions giving parents and carers opportunities to focus on specific areas of child behaviour. Dates of upcoming sessions are below.

Triple P Primary Discussion Groups (Age 5-12yrs)

  • Managing Fighting & Aggression – Tuesday 2 November 2021, 10am-12.30pm
    Somerstown Family Hub, Omega Street, Southsea, PO5 4LP (02392 821816)
  • Dealing with Disobedience – Tuesday 9 November 2021, 10am-12.30pm
    Paulsgrove Family Hub, Cheltenham Road, Portsmouth, PO6 3PL (02392 385995)
  • Dealing with Disobedience – Wednesday 17 November 2021, 6pm –8.30pm
    Buckland Family Hub,Turner Road, Portsmouth,PO1 4PN (02392 733440)
  • Managing Fighting & Aggression – Tuesday 23rd November 2021, 6pm-8.30pm
    Paulsgrove Family Hub, Cheltenham Road, Portsmouth, PO6 3PL (02392 385995)
  • Dealing with Disobedience – Wednesday 8 December 2021, 10am-12:30pm
    Milton Family Hub, Perth Road, Southsea PO4 8EU (02392 827392)

Teen Triple P Discussion Groups (Age 12-16yrs)

  • Reducing Family Conflict – Wednesday 10 November 2021, 10am-12.30pm
    Somerstown Family Hub, Omega Street, Southsea, PO5 4LP (02392 821816)
  • Coping with Teen Emotions – Tuesday 16 November 2021, 10am-12.30pm
    Paulsgrove Family Hub, Cheltenham Road, Portsmouth, PO6 3PL (02392 385995)
  • Getting Teenagers to Co operate – Wednesday 17 November 2021, 6pm – 8.30pm
    Milton Family Hub, Perth Road, Portsmouth, PO4 8EU (02392 827392)
  • Reducing Family Conflict – Thursday 9 December 2021, 6pm – 8.30pm
    Paulsgrove Family Hub, Cheltenham Road, Portsmouth, PO6 3PL (02392 385995)

To book your place, please call the relevant family hub.

COVID-19 vaccinations for people aged 12 to 15

COVID-19 vaccinations for people aged 12 to 15

Below are a number of useful links which provide the latest information on the COVID-19 vaccination programme, including FAQs.

Updates and FAQs

 Guidance for schools

Guidance for parents

 Guides for children and young people

Easy reads

Further public information resources about COVID-19 and the vaccination programme

These are also available in alternative formats including leaflets and videos translated into different languages, easy-read information leaflets, British Sign Language videos and large print information leaflets:

Get the latest updates and advice on the vaccine programme from:

Reading Well for Children Collection

The NEW Reading Well for Children Collection has launched this week. Originally known colloquially as Books on Prescription, Reading Well for Children recommends reading to help children understand their feelings and worries and cope with tough times. The books cover themes such as emotions, bereavement, worry and bullying. The books have been chosen by children, carers, health experts and librarians. They are endorsed by leading health organisations such as NHS England, Mind and the Royal College of GPs.

The booklist is targeted at children in Key Stage 2 (aged 7-11) and includes a wide range of reading levels to support less confident readers, and to encourage children to read together with their siblings and carers. The book list can be viewed here.

This collection acts as an accompaniment to the Shelf Help Collection that launched a few years back and was aimed at teenagers.

These books are available in all Portsmouth Libraries and Pat Garrett from the Library Service can supply copies of the official leaflet which lists the books and explains the collection to schools upon request. She can also supply A4 posters for school libraries.

A Powerpoint presentation explaining the collection for the purposes of staff meetings and training is also available upon request.

For further information contact Pat Garrett at [email protected] or 023 9268 8259.

Inspectors praise support for children in Portsmouth who need mental health support

Organisations across Portsmouth have been praised for their support for children who need mental health support as well as those suffering from abuse, neglect and exploitation. In December 2019, Ofsted, the Care Quality Commission (CQC), HMI Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) and HMI Probation (HMI Prob) carried out a Joint Targeted Area Inspection (JTAI) of the agencies involved in providing support to children in Portsmouth.

Schools, the NHS, the police, the council and voluntary organisations are particularly commended for working closely together in a strong partnership, for their learning culture and for their innovation and creativity, helping to ensure that children in Portsmouth are receiving the emotional well-being and mental health services they need. The quality and flexibility of the specialist mental health service, Children and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS), is highlighted, as is the effective response to children presenting to the A&E department at the QA Hospital. Hampshire Police were commended for their commitment and understanding of children’s needs and for responding in an appropriate way. It was noted that public resources were being used efficiently through good joint commissioning of services.

Derek Benson, chair of Portsmouth Children’s Safeguarding Partnership, said: “Overall we are very pleased with the outcome of the recent inspection of the effectiveness of the city’s approach to children who need mental health support. The report praises the support provided to children from a strong partnership across schools, the NHS, the police, the council and the voluntary sector. This is a testament to the way different organisations supporting children and young people in Portsmouth, including our strong local CAMHS service, work together to make a difference every day. The inspection highlighted areas where we need to improve and we know we must n never be complacent. We will continue to work closely with children and their families to improve services further to ensure they get the support they need.”

The report identifies ways in which services could be further improved, including a consistent focus during planning and assessment of services on how they impact on children at the point of delivery.

The full report can be found here.

Miltoncross Academy presented with Wellbeing Award

Congratulations to Miltoncross Academy who have recently been awarded a whole-school Wellbeing Award:

“We are delighted to announce that we have been presented with a Wellbeing Award, by Award Place through Optimus Education.

This whole-school award is given for effective practice and provision that promotes the emotional wellbeing and mental health of staff and students. The award has a focus on developing the long-term culture of a school, and embedding an ethos where mental health is regarded as the responsibility of all. We are incredibly proud to have received this award and to be the first School in Portsmouth to do so!”