Mental Health

29.04.19

NHS pilot ‘sleep clinic’ scheme helps vulnerable children's mental health

A pioneering NHS scheme to help improve the sleeping patterns of vulnerable children be found to significantly help patients and their family’s health and wellbeing.

The pilot programme in Sheffield sees parents given one-to-one and over-the-phone sessions with sleep experts and delivers sleep clinics to children from troubled backgrounds or with very challenging behaviour.

NHS England said the scheme had resulted in children sleeping well, gaining an extra 2.4 hours sleep a night, and performances at school improving as well as helping free up time and energy for parents to better able look after their family.

Sheffield Children’s Hospital has been trialling the classes for families of children with brain development disorders and who have experienced trauma which affects their sleep and contributes to ill health.

During the programme, sleep specialists offer help to the parents on how to help their children sleep better and get into a routine as well as teaching parents techniques to keep kids calm around bedtime.

The goal is to reduce the demand on the health service by improving the sleeping patterns and mental health if children whose health and wellbeing has been impacted from ill health or trauma.

As well as improving mental health of those involved the measures had a significant impact on parent’s wellbeing, with the number of carers, mums and dads reporting illnesses such as headaches, anxiety and depression falling by 16%.

Professor Heather Elphick, consultant in paediatric sleep medicine at Sheffield Children’s, set up the three-way partnership known as ‘The Sheffield Children and Young People’s Sleeping Well Project’.

She said: “This project has made life better for children, young people and their families across the city with a positive impact not just in the amount of sleep gained but in the wellbeing and quality of life for the whole family.

“The programme also reduces the need for a patient to receive medication and intensive medical treatment. A good night’s sleep is more than just a nice-to-have, and is actually a significant boost to health and wellbeing, particularly for young people living with ADHD and mental ill health.”

The results come as the NHS prepares to launch a programme to transform its care for children and young people as part of the NHS Long-Term Plan.

Claire Murdoch, mental health director for NHS England, said: “The NHS Long-Term Plan sets out an ambitious programme to improve children’s health, with investment in mental health services for young people at a record high.

“NHS investment means world-leading treatments increasingly are available for young people, and common sense, effective measures like this can offer a practical and life-changing helping hand to millions of families.”

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