ST Helens Council is planning to bid for extra cash to fund work around children’s mental health in schools, it has been revealed.

Professor Sarah O’Brien, the council’s strategic director of people services, was invited to the council’s overview and scrutiny commission this week to update members on St Helens Cares.

St Helens Cares is the council’s new integrated care system and is expected to save £80 million by 2020.

Health and care partners that have recently entered a collaboration agreement with the council have agreed to focus on a number of key priority areas over the next 12 to 15 months.

One of these areas is around children’s mental health.

Prof O’Brien, who is also the clinical accountable officer for St Helens CCG, said St Helens is “not getting the offer right” around children’s mental health.

Prof O’Brien said: “Because we are working together now, it’s not an us and them anymore.

“It’s about, what does that need to look like? How do we do it differently?

“None of us have got a load of spare extra cash so it’s about saying, with the money we’ve got, how do we get it right?

“And it’s about engaging without schools as well and saying, what is it you need so that we can that right?”

Prof O’Brien told members the council is currently trying to engage with schools in the borough to encourage them to work more closely with mental health services.

She also revealed the council intends to bid for money that would provide extra funds for schools to support work around children’s mental health.

Prof O’Brien said another area the council and its partners must “get better” at is utilising the borough’s community and voluntary sector to support statutory services.

Thatto Heath councillor Richard McCauley said there are numerous voluntary organisations carrying our work around children’s mental health working in “isolation”.

Prof O’Brien said the council’s must build on its work around social prescribing, which is currently being piloted by a number of GP surgeries in St Helens.

Social prescribing is a way of linking patients in primary care with sources of support within the community

Prof O’Brien added: “We need to use our communities and some of the groups that are already there to boost the support that people need, rather than it always being about expensive statutory services.”