Funding for young people’s mental health services to address rise in eating disorders

Children and young people will benefit from a cash injection to mental health services which includes addressing the increasing demand for the treatment of eating disorders.

24/06/21

Funding for young people’s mental health services to address rise in eating disorders

An extra £40 million has been allocated to address the impact of COVID-19 on children and young people’s mental health and enhance services across the country.

The additional money will be spent on support to ensure services have “the right type of beds” in the right places, or that alternatives to admission are in place, supporting parts of the country that have more challenges in their range of bed capacity.

Across England, £10 million capital funding is being used to provide extra beds at units which provide care for young people with the most complex needs, including eating disorders, as well as £1.5 million to ensure there are additional facilities for children under 13.

This funding is on top of £79 million made available by the Government to support children and young people’s mental health in the community, including via increased access to crisis and eating disorder services, and new mental health support teams being rolled out. By April 2023, the NHS says there will be around 400 teams covering more than a third (35%) of the country, exceeding the previous ambition of 20-25%.

Claire Murdoch, NHS National Mental Health Director, said the pandemic has hit young people hard and while services have remained open throughout, we have seen an increase in the numbers of children and young people seeking help from the NHS for their mental health.

“This additional funding is in recognition of the rising demand and our continued commitment to provide the best care as early as possible and to do as much to prevent children and young people needing hospital treatment as we do to ensure that when they are in hospital they receive the right treatment before being supported back at home.”

Funding will also be used to train staff working with children with mental health issues on children’s wards to ensure they have the skills to manage mental health conditions, even if they are not specialist mental health staff.

To support staff in providing care for patients with eating disorders the investment will include specialist feeding training which will be rolled out so, where appropriate, this care can be given to children and young people in a standard hospital setting. But the NHS says investment will also be used to develop day services and alternatives to admissions that will include support for patients with eating disorders.

The NHS says the investment “recognises the complexity” of mental health in children and young people who may require hospital treatment for another matter while also presenting with a mental health condition.

Money will also be spent on establishing an intensive community support role to prevent children being admitted to hospitals and facilitating earlier discharge. This will enable the training of 96 associate practitioner psychologists who will be trained to practice under close supervision with those who have complex and severe mental health conditions, to provide care both in hospital and within the home.

This funding is in addition to the significant funding already committed to mental health services as part of the Long Term Plan as the NHS says it expects to see a further 345,000 children and young people access mental health services by 2024.

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