With NHS research suggesting as many as 1 in 6 children and young people in England may be facing a mental health problem, the Government has announced £79m in funding to boost services and support.
The growing number of mental health problems among young people has been heavily impacted by the pandemic and lockdown, with the figure having risen from just 1 in 9 children and young people back in 2017.
The newly-awarded funding will help grow the number of mental health support teams in schools and colleges from 59 to 400 by April 2023, supporting nearly 3 million children.
Mental health support teams work in a number 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 to offer advice. They also can provide families with tips on how to spot when children and young people are struggling with their mental health.
These teams will also help staff within schools and colleges to provide a ‘whole school approach’ to mental health and wellbeing through training sessions for parents and workshops for teachers.
During the pandemic, many of these services have continued to operate virtually, helping to support both students and staff.
Further efforts will also see access to community mental health services 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.
This helps to accelerate the commitment to expand services as part of the NHS Long Term Plan.
Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said: “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.
“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.”