Millions more children and young people will have access to significantly expanded mental health services, backed by £79 million, the Department of Health and Social Care 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 number of mental health support teams in schools and colleges will grow from 59 to 400 by April 2023, supporting nearly 3 million children. Mental health support teams work in a variety of ways, including enabling children to text their local mental health support team, with a health professional responding within an hour during the school day offering them advice, or providing families with tips on how to spot that the children and young people are struggling with their mental health.
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‘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,’ said Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock.
‘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.’
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 2000 children and young people in the community. This follows NHS England’s plans to expand rapid access to specialist NHS treatment for young people with eating disorders across England, aiming to contact patients within 48 hours and beginning treatment as soon as 2 weeks later.
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‘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,’ said Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Nadine Dorries.
‘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.’