NHS England have announced they’re fast-tracking more than 2.4 million children and young people into mental health services, in yet another measure to tackle record demand.
The scheme is already a full year ahead of schedule anyway but now the NHS is aiming to have more than 500 teams – around twice the current number – deployed by 2024.
The services are designed to offer support to children and young people suffering from anxiety, depression or other common mental health problems.
Claire Murdoch, NHS National Mental Health Director said: “Children’s lives have faced enormous disruption over the last two years which is why NHS staff and partners have worked flat out to fast track the roll out of hundreds of mental health teams in schools and offer support to millions of pupils, a year ahead of schedule.
“NHS mental health support teams are now in place in around 4,700 schools and colleges across the country ready to listen to any anxieties or issues children may have and I would urge everyone, whether you’re a teacher, parent or child, to access this help before any issues escalate.
“The NHS Long Term Plan will continue to invest in not just mental health support teams, but mental health services more widely as part of plans to support a further 345,000 children and young people with mental health services by 2024.”
Referrals to the teams can be made by GPs and, in some cases, by the pupil themselves via text by messaging the texting service that’s been established.
Once referred the patients will be offered one-to-one and group therapy sessions, whilst continuing to level up community awareness regarding mental health issues, through training sessions for teachers and workshops for parents.
NHS figures show that around 40% of six to 16-year-olds have experienced a deterioration in their mental health since 2017.
Minister for Mental Health, Gillian Keegan said: “The last two years have been particularly challenging for children and young people so it’s important they can access support as early as possible.
“Our investment is paying off – the £79 million we have provided has allowed the NHS to accelerate the rollout of mental health support teams and expanded community services so tens of thousands more children can get help.
“We’ve also opened a call for evidence to gather views from people of all ages to inform a new 10-year mental health plan to keep the nation in positive mental wellbeing and I urge people to respond.”
This latest roll out is only a small part of a wider NHS package looking to battle the endless ramifications of the pandemic, with the NHS having already introduced a 24/7 crisis helpline and traditional, telephone and digital appointments to supplement the populace’s needs.
More information about the accelerated plans can be found here.