HOSPITAL staff are to receive specialist training to improve the way they work with children and young people experiencing mental health difficulties.

The aim is to boost staff knowledge, skills and confidence when the patients are in hospital or attending A&E in a mental health crisis.

The “We Can Talk” Children and Young People’s Mental Health is funded by Health Education England.

It offers acute hospital trusts a series of one-day training sessions for staff who are not experts in mental health care, to learn more about how they can support a young person in hospital.

Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust has signed up to the initiative which covers the Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital, Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton, and Princess Royal Hospital in Haywards Heath.

Sam Bean, who works at the Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital, said: “We have been so impressed with how hospital staff have responded to the project so far.

“We sent out an initial survey to all staff to help us establish how confident they felt in working with young people who are experiencing mental health difficulties.

“Their responses showed us that they currently find it difficult and quite stressful because they are afraid of saying or doing the wrong thing.

“We are confident that the training days will help to show our staff that they play such a huge part in supporting the children and young people that they work with on a daily basis and they have a lot of the skills already.

“They have just got to be confident in applying them and trusting their instincts.”

Each training session will also have a young person adviser attend to share their experience of being in hospital during a mental health crisis, helping to illustrate to the hospital staff the difference that they can make to a young person’s experience.

The project was first piloted at Barts Health NHS Trust in 2017 with more than 300 acute hospital staff.

It helped identify areas where extra education and support was most needed for hospital staff to feel confident and competent when caring for a young person in hospital with a mental health need.

Lorraine Tinker, divisional head of nursing for children at BSUH, said: “I am so excited that we are able to participate in ‘We Can Talk.’