Mental health services for children and young people will receive an extra £40m boost to help deal with the impact Covid-19 has had on their mental health. It is expected to enhance services across the country, and address the increased demand for eating disorder treatments.
Some projects will include £30m revenue and 10m capital funding to support children with mental health issues on children’s wards. This will be carried out through a number of schemes to prevent the need for admission and to train staff to ensure they have the skills to manage mental health conditions, even if they are not specialist mental health staff.
It also aims to fund a wider range of beds in parts of the country where they are experiencing more challenges in this area, making sure that the right type of beds are in the appropriate places.
Claire Murdoch, National Mental Health Director, said: “This pandemic has hit our 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.”
Young people with the most complex needs such as eating disorders will also benefit from £10m capital funding which will provide extra beds at units which provide care for this group. There will also be £1.5m spent to make sure further facilities are available for children under 13.
This is in addition to the £79m government funding designed to support children and young people’s mental health, which includes increased access to crisis and eating disorder services. It will include new mental health support teams being rolled out – by April 2023. Around 400 teams will cover 35% of the country, exceeding previous ambitions of 20-25%.
As part of the investment in services to support those with eating disorders, there will be specialist feeding training to support staff in caring for the patients, which will be rolled out so this care can be given to children and young people in a standard hospital setting, where appropriate.
Helping develop day services and alternatives to admissions to help patients with eating disorders is also part of the support expected through the investment. There will also be funding in setting up an intensive community support role to avoid children being admitted to hospital too often, because in many cases the best option recommended is receiving care at home.
This will mean the training of 96 associate practitioner psychologists, who will be trained to supervise closely those with complex and severe mental health conditions, in hospitals and within the home.
The funding is on top of the financial support for mental health services set out in the NHS Long Term Plan, which will provide greater access to mental health services by 2024, for 345,000 children and young people