A NEW £9.6million children’s mental Health unit, unique to the south of England, is opening to patients.

Up to 25 11 to 18-year-olds will be looked after at the unit, which has been built on part of the former Severalls Hospital site, in Colchester.

The building, the only NHS unit of its kind in the south, will be run by mental health trust North Essex Partnership and includes 15 general beds and ten intensive therapy beds.

The centre replaces Long-view, the mental health unit in Turner Road, Colchester, and includes the country’s First ever 136 unit, where police can bring children sectioned under the Mental Health Act.

Toni Scales, area director for children and young people’s services, said: “A huge amount of thought went into how the unit would be built.

“For example, we did not want the school to seem like part of the centre.

“It had to feel separate so the young people must go outside of where they are staying and walk around, but still inside the unit, to get to it.

“We wanted the young people to be involved as much as possible, so they chose the colour schemes and helped in designing the artwork.”

Their designs, which were the result of workshops with Firstsite art gallery, were then projected on to the walls.

Patients will be able to use the new unit from Monday and an official opening has been planned for September.