The UK government has outlined the steps it will take to support children and young people’s mental health in the fallout of the pandemic
The Covid-19 pandemic has affected the lives and wellbeing of children and young people in unprecedented ways and, while we have an end in sight for restrictions, it’s now the time to begin work on supporting those whose mental health has been impacted by the unique pressures of the past year.
Research from the NHS has found that one in six young people have a mental health problem, an increase from one in nine in 2017.
In an announcement made 5 March, the government has pledged £79 million to boost mental health support for children and young people. These funds will go toward increasing mental health support teams in schools and colleges from 59 to 400, by April 2023 – predicted to enable support for nearly 3 million children.
Children will be able to text their local mental health support team where a health professional will respond within an hour during school hours. The teams will also offer advice to families – such as tips for how to spot warning signs and step in – and also support staff within schools and colleges with training and workshops.
In a statement, Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Nadine Dorries said:
“This has been an exceptionally difficult year, especially for our children and young people, and we know it is having a real impact on mental health.
“This additional funding will mean children who need to can access services in the community, as well as providing early intervention in schools.
“I am committed to supporting everyone’s mental health and wellbeing, and doing everything we can to ensure young people who need help, get help.”
It’s a move that is supported by Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of Mind, who sees this as a positive investment, but who stresses that there is more work to be done to cement mental health at the heart of recovery from the pandemic and beyond.
The £79 million pledge forms part of the £500 million for mental health, announced at the 2021 to 2022 spending review – and is part of the NHS Long Term Plan to offer an additional 345,000 children and young people access to mental health services by 2024.
As we begin to address the effect of the pandemic, mental health services will be needed more than ever before, and commitments such as these will be vital as we face the next steps.
Discover support and advice on the Every Mind Matters site.
Want to talk? Connect with a counsellor using counselling-directory.org.uk.