Child in session

Children's mental health workforce boosted by 40% as demand rises

The NHS children’s mental health workforce is being bolstered by around 4,500 more staff, as demand continues to rise.

The new recruits will include dozens of psychological practitioners to help young people aged 13 to 17 years-old with severe depression, self-harm and more complex conditions, by offering them assessments, coping strategies and support in the community.

The reinforcements come as Claire Murdoch, the NHS Mental Health Director, called for more people to join the mental health workforce to fill the country’s 22,000 vacancies in the department.

The vacancies cover thousands of new roles sanctioned to meet the rising demand, including new wellbeing practitioners to help children and young people and their parents identify and treat common mental health problems before they get more serious.

Claire Murdoch said: “There has never been a more important time to work in children’s mental health – demand for NHS services has skyrocketed over the last two years with the pandemic taking a significant toll on the nation’s wellbeing.

“Thousands of new staff have already joined the ranks, as the NHS launches even more brand-new roles to meet record demand across the country to provide specialist support for children and young people to help with the pressures they face.

“Becoming a mental health nurse was one of the best decisions of my life and I would encourage anyone who is thinking about a career which can have a positive impact on people’s lives, to join the NHS and be part of our efforts to support people suffering from poor mental health, as we look to make our patient services even stronger than they were before the pandemic hit.”

Between March 2019 and March 2022, the NHS mental health workforce has grown by 18,583 full time staff, with the children and young people workforce growing by nearly 4,500.

In the year up to April 2022, more than 677,000 children and young people were supported by NHS services – an increase of approximately 163,000 since the launch of the NHS Long Term Plan.

Minister for Mental Health Gillian Keegan said: “It’s vital we have the right mental health support in place for children and young people. These additional staff are another significant step in ensuring children can access the support they need, as early as possible.

“This, alongside our £79 million to expand mental health support teams in schools to reach 3 million pupils by 2024 and our record investment to expand and transform services giving an additional 345,000 children access to support by 2024 will enable more children and young people to live full, healthy lives.”

More information on the bolstered workforce is available here.

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NHE May/June 2024

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