Children and young people will be able to access significantly expanded mental health services, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has announced.
Young people have been uniquely impacted by the pandemic and lockdown, with NHS research suggesting one in six may now have a mental health problem, up from one in nine in 2017.
The government has expanded the support available to children and young people who may be suffering from poor mental health as a result of, or exacerbated by, the pandemic.
DHSC said the number of mental health support teams in schools and colleges will grow from 59 to 400 by April 2023. Access to community mental health services will also be expanded, giving 22,500 more children and young people access to help and support by 2021 to 2022, including talking therapies and cognitive behavioural therapy.
Children and young people facing a mental health crisis will continue to get support through 24/7 crisis lines and will benefit from additional funding to support follow-up crisis treatment at home where necessary.
Eating disorder services for conditions like anorexia and bulimia will also be accessible to an additional 2,000 children and young people in the community.
Paul Farmer, chief executive of Mind welcomed the funding but said there is still lots more work to be done to make sure every young person gets the support they need.
‘It’s positive that the prime minister is listening to the views and experiences of children and young people affected by mental health problems, and that the UK government have confirmed £79 million of the previously announced £500 million investment has now been allocated to support children and young people’s mental health.
‘We know high levels of poor mental health and problems accessing mental health services were a problem for many children and young people even before the pandemic, and that coronavirus has disproportionately affected younger people.
‘That’s why we’ve been speaking to pupils, teachers, and parents as part of our Education Inquiry to gain a better understanding of the range of issues facing secondary school-age children.
‘Over the past year, our young people have faced a whole load of additional challenges, including school closures, loneliness and isolation, and the knock-on effect of the recession causing problems for families such as debt, unemployment, housing, and access to benefits.
‘There is still lots more work to be done to make sure every young person gets the support they need and deserve for their mental health. This is a positive step forward in cementing mental health at the heart of the UK government’s recovery plans from the pandemic and beyond.’
Health bosses said education staff will be supported to respond to the emotional and mental health pressures some children and young people may be feeling as a result of Covid-19 as they return to school by the Wellbeing for Education Return programme. And free online psychological training modules on how to provide practical and emotional support to children and young people affected by emergencies or crisis situations.
Health secretary Matt Hancock said: ‘Over the last year great focus has rightly been placed on our physical health, but I am incredibly conscious of the impact the pandemic has had on people’s mental health and wellbeing.
‘Children and young people have been particularly impacted by disruption to their routine, education and social lives and I am committed to doing all I can to ensure mental health support is there for those who need it.
‘Our response to this global pandemic will not only treat the public health threat of coronavirus but ensure our clinicians have the resources to respond to the long-term impact on people’s mental health, to provide support to everyone in their hour of need.’
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