SOPHIE, Countess of Wessex, will officially open an Oxford mental health unit during a visit to the county on Thursday.

She will visit The Highfield Unit at the Warneford Hospital, Warneford Lane, Headington.

The facility opened early last year and provides inpatient care for youngsters aged 11 to 18 with “acute mental health needs”.

The £11m facility has 18 ensuite rooms, a music suite and learning zone so patients can continue their education.

Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust spokesman Alistair Duncan said: “This well-equipped unit now provides the best possible environment for young people with serious mental illness who cannot be cared for safely in the community.

“We are delighted to announce that Her Royal Highness The Countess of Wessex has kindly agreed to open the new unit at a ceremony to take place on February 13.”

He said: “The countess will receive a tour of the unit, meeting patients and seeing first-hand some of the therapeutic and educational activities that young people being treated at the Highfield Unit Oxford take part in.

“She will then officially open the facility and meet other key people involved in the development of the unit.”

The countess will also visit the Oxford Food Bank in North Hinksey Lane, to mark its fifth birthday.

The food bank provides about 150 tonnes of food a year to more than 40 county charities.