Against a backdrop of significant increases in the number of children and young people who suffer from mental illness the government has announced £3.3 million in funding to expand 23 local projects to help prevent mental illness in children and young people.
Thousands of young people across England will benefit from new mental health support including counselling, mentoring and arts programmes in their communities. This will be backed by a multi-million pound government investment this year.
As part of the government’s commitment to transforming mental health care – backed by an extra £2.3 billion a year through the NHS Long Term Plan – Mental Health Minister Nadine Dorries and Public Health Minister Jo Churchill announced an investment of a further £3.3 million.
Earlier this year the government pledged to overhaul society’s approach to mental illness through better access to education, training and support across communities. This included a commitment to train all teachers to spot the signs of mental illness in children, making sure they can intervene before issues escalate.
The Department of Health & Social Care claims the funding will allow more children and young people aged 25 and under to access local services to support their mental health, with early intervention for those at risk of mental health problems. The projects have an emphasis on improving access to support outside of NHS services, including for groups such as LGBT young people or those from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds.
Projects receiving funding include:
However welcome the additional funding may be there is an argument to say – it falls a long way short of matching the complexity and scope of mental illness.
According to the YoungMinds charity “mental health is a big issue for young people”
However the current needs of children and young people are not being met as demand for services grows.
While it may be argued that while there is greater awareness in schools and the wider health service of the needs of children and young people as regards mental illness, as the demand for services increase, access to care and support along with the speed of access required to maximise outcomes, a great deal of further investment will be required. While £3.3 million to support 23 local projects is a small part of the overall spend on mental health it perhaps emphasises how far short we are of delivering a complete network of support for children and young people.