William Eichler 07 October 2019

Whitehall announces £35m mental health research programme

The Government today announced a £35m programme dedicated to researching teenage mental health issues.

It is estimated that one in eight children or young people are affected by mental health problems and of those three-quarters will experience them before the age of 24.

The five-year research programme will look at external tensions and genetics to ensure mental health problems affecting teenagers, including depression, anxiety, self-harm and eating disorders, are being treated effectively.

‘Our teenage years can be the most fantastic of our life. But there are those for whom the teenage years are the most difficult,’ said business secretary Andrea Leadsom.

‘We know that in the UK, three quarters of those that will experience mental health problems will do so before they turn 24.

‘The £35m Government-backed research programme we are announcing today will look to better understand why so many teenagers face mental health problems, and how we can better support, detect and treat them.’

Emma Thomas, chief executive of YoungMinds, described the programme as ‘hugely welcome’.

‘We know from young people we work with that the factors that can lead to poor mental health are often complex, but that difficult experiences at a young age – like bereavement, bullying or abuse – can have a huge impact.

‘It’s really important that we have clear evidence about how the circumstances children grow up in affect their mental health, and about what forms of support make the most difference.

‘While we undoubtedly need investment in NHS mental health services, we would also hope that this research would lead to further action across Government and across society to address the crisis and make early support a priority.’

According to the campaign group NHS: Keep Our NHS Public, mental health trusts in England have suffered budget cuts in real terms of just over 8% year on year since 2011.

The health think tank the King’s Fund this month warned that while more funding was going towards mental health services after years of neglect, there remain problems with access and the quality of care experienced by people using services

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