#WorldMentalHealthDay is on 10th October with a focus this year on suicide prevention. It is tragic that 200 school-aged children die by suicide every year.
Barbara has published an article in Prospect Magazine about how a Labour Government will prioritise prevention so that fewer families of children and young people have to fight to get the support they need, as they do now.
NHS statistics show that more children than ever before are developing mental health conditions, but this rise comes at a time when accessing services has become increasingly difficult for young people. All too often, mental health services are leaving children without support and their families fighting to get help.
Despite being one of the richest countries in the world, research from Warwick Medical School has found that our children’s mental health services lag behind many of our European neighbours on measures such as access to child psychiatrists. The current picture of mental health provision in this country is one of stretched services, long waiting lists, and eligibility criteria that set thresholds so high that many children who need support are not able to access it.
Half of all mental health conditions start before age 14, making early support essential. Yet as few as one in four children and young people are able to get the vital treatment they need. According to the Care Quality Commission, in some cases children are waiting as long as 18 months to be seen by a therapist.
This lack of support is leading to more children and young people having mental health rises—crises that could possibly be prevented if they received help earlier. Shockingly, over 200 school-aged children die by suicide every year, and suicides in women under 25 have reached the highest level on record.
Children’s mental health services have not had the investment they need under this government. NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups spend on average just 6 per cent of their mental health budgets on children, despite children and young people making up 20 per cent of the population.
Under a Labour government, addressing this funding crisis will be a priority. We will increase the proportion of the mental health budget spent on services for children and young people and ring-fence this to ensure that funding remains where it is needed—detecting and supporting mental health problems early.
At the last election, Labour pledged to extend counselling services to every school. This will help ensure that young people get the support they need at an earlier stage, before problems become more serious.
This is already the practice in Wales, where 11,000 young people access a school counsellor every year—with less than one in seven of them then needing further support from child and adolescent mental health services.
In England, the government has committed to rolling out new mental health support to schools, but this will reach just a quarter of schools over the next four years, a commitment that doesn’t even begin to ensure every child who needs it can be supported by a trained professional.
The Conservatives are taking a piecemeal approach to improving support, which does nothing to tackle the current deeply-ingrained issues in access to services or inadequate funding.
A Labour government will prioritise prevention, to tackle the causes of mental ill health. And by funding mental health services properly, we will make sure that fewer families have to fight to get the support they need.
You can see the full article by clicking here.
For anyone who is struggling and needing support for their mental health, there are people who are willing to listen. See below for contact details to use.