William Eichler 20 August 2019

Government announces over £3m to support children with mental health issues

Children and young people are to benefit from a £3.3m injection of cash into local community projects, the Government has announced – but council chiefs warn more investment in local prevention services is needed.

Mental health minister Nadine Dorries and public health minister Jo Churchill today said the funding would be invested in 23 local community projects across England.

One of these projects – LifeLine Community Projects in Barking and Dagenham – is set to receive over £298,000 to expand their work with young people most at risk of poor mental health.

Another – York Mind – will receive £50,000 to expand their Arts Award programme, which connects young people to the arts, increasing their skills, confidence, sense of identity and reduce isolation.

The Proud Trust’s Peer Support Project in Manchester will also receive over £23,000 to support LGBT young people.

The funding will come from the Health and Wellbeing Fund. The 23 projects will be fully funded through the scheme in their first year and additional joint funding from local commissioners will be agreed for two years afterwards.

‘We know children and young people today face many pressures at home and in their social and academic lives but giving them easily accessible mental health support at an early age can help them thrive later in life,’ said Ms Dorries.

‘That’s why the government is investing billions every year to transform mental health care, and giving more money to innovative, community-led projects run by people who have chosen to dedicate their lives to supporting young people by providing them with the tools and means they need to manage their own mental health.’

The NHS Long Term Plan aims to ensure that 345,000 more children and young people have access to mental health support by 2024, including via mental health support teams in and around schools.

Kathy Roberts, CEO of the Association of Mental Health Providers, welcomed the funding announcement and said it would build on the NHS Long Term Plan.

‘The NHS Long Term Plan made a number of promises for mental health in the next 10 years, including the much-needed scaling up and improvement of support for children and young people.

‘The voluntary sector has a key role in transforming mental health care and offers a range support for children and young people. The sector is innovative, has reach into communities, and there is huge potential to expand and scale up its offer.

‘Association of Mental Health Providers therefore welcomes the Health and Wellbeing Fund’s focus on this important area and the funding of 23 exceptional voluntary and community sector projects.’

Cllr Anntoinette Bramble, chair of the LGA’s Children and Young People Board, welcomed today's announcement, but stressed much more needs to be done to support young people with mental health issues.

'While it is very encouraging that 23 community-based projects across the country will benefit, we still need to see a root and branch rethink about how we support the mental health and emotional wellbeing of our children and young people,' she said.

'We must include investment in local council-led services, including those provided by our over-stretched children’s services and public health services, often delivered through their local community and voluntary sector.

'We need more preventative, early intervention and wrap-around support and care for our children and young people’s mental health, which focuses on the wellbeing of the person and their family, rather than a rush to medicalisation.'

'The Government must invest more in council services in the upcoming Spending Round, so that councils, with their local community and voluntary sector, can deliver much-needed mental health support through their children, public health and adult services; as well as through their services that address the underlying issues that impact on mental health such as family circumstances, housing, employment, health inequalities, and so on,' Cllr Bramble added.

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