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Multi-systemic Therapy

The Social Exclusion Action Plan laid out the government's commitment to identifying the most effective interventions for tackling mental health problems in childhood and preventing the onset of problems later in life.

Multi-systemic Therapy (MST) is supported by a significant international body of evidence and has been shown to improve outcomes for children and young people at risk of falling into care or the criminal justice system. MST services are already running successfully at two sites in the UK and the government has now committed £17.5m to pilot the programme at a further 10 sites.

In November 2007 government ministers Kevin Brennan, Ivan Lewis and Gillian Merron announced the ten successful pilots. The pilot sites will be: London Borough of Merton and Royal Borough of Kingston; London Borough of Greenwich; London Borough of Hackney; Leeds; Trafford; Sheffield; Barnsley; Peterborough; Reading; and Plymouth. These sites are in addition to successful MST projects already running in Cambridgeshire and at the Brandon Centre in North London.

About Multi-systemic Therapy

Multi Systemic Therapy (MST) is a family and community-based treatment programme for young people with complex clinical, social, and educational problems such as violent behaviour, drug abuse and school expulsion. MST therapists work in close partnership with the young person's family and community to strengthen protective factors known to reduce the risk of future offending and anti-social behaviour.

MST is delivered over a period of three to six months in homes, neighbourhoods, schools and communities by professionals who may come from a range of disciplines such as psychology, social work and family therapy. Young people will be referred from youth offending teams and children's services.

The MST approach is distinctive for a number of reasons. MST interventions:

The funding for this programme is provided by Department of Health (DH) and the Department of Children, Schools and Families (DCSF). DCSF have committed £12m and DH has committed £5.65 million. The pilots will be led by DH, with support from DCSF and the Youth Justice Board.