£79 million to expand mental health support for children and young people

Government says millions more children and young people will have access to ‘significantly expanded’ mental health services.

08/03/21

£79 million to expand mental health support for children and young people

The Department of Health and Social Care has announced expansions to the mental health support available for children and young people with new mental health support teams in schools, plus greater access to community mental health services and eating disorder services.

NHS research has suggested as many as 1 in 6 young people may now have a mental health problem as a result of the pandemic and lockdown, up from 1 in 9 in 2017.

The Government has promised that the number of mental health support teams in schools and colleges will grow from 59 to 400 by April 2023.

Throughout the pandemic, these teams have continued to work virtually, providing vital support for young people during lockdown, with schools hailing their success in supporting both students and staff.

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.

The expansion comes as part of the NHS Long Term Plan, which will see an additional 345,000 more children and young people access mental health services by 2024.

“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,” Health Secretary Matt Hancock said.

Children and young people facing a mental health crisis will continue to get support through 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, the Government said.

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.

“This additional funding will mean children who need to can access services in the community, as well as providing early intervention in schools,” said Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Nadine Dorries.

Children and young people’s mental health services have remained open throughout the pandemic, adapting to deliver services remotely where appropriate.

NHS Mental Health Director Claire Murdoch said the pandemic had turned lives ‘upside down’, with children and young people hit hardest.

“NHS mental health services have worked around the clock, proactively reaching out to and caring for children and young people despite challenging circumstances – and we stand steadfast in our commitment to continue to improve mental health care for each and every one of them.

“This funding announced as part of the Spending Review last November will now support NHS England’s work to increase the number of mental health support teams in schools and colleges to 400 by 2023, and growing community services to treat more children and young people than ever before.”

Welcoming the announcement, Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of Mind said with schools reopening today the funding “can’t come soon enough”.

“We know that 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.

“There is still lots more work to be done to ensure that every young person gets the support they need for their mental health. But this is a positive step forward in cementing mental health at the heart of recovery from the pandemic and beyond.”

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