The Government recently announced that Dartford will be one of 25 areas nationally to trial a new scheme designed to better support children and young people who are experiencing mental health problems.
When children and young people experience mental health difficulties, it is essential they get access to the right support as quickly as possible. This is something that hasn’t been tackled sufficiently in the past, but this is now changing.
Approximately 10 per cent of five to 16 year olds have a clinically diagnosable mental health problem and this can have a devastating impact on their future prospects. It is believed half of all mental health conditions begin before the age of 14 and teenagers with a mental health disorder are over two and a half times more likely to have a mental disorder in adulthood.
The new scheme will see a specially trained, allocated team, supporting children in local schools. This will build on the support already in place and allow the treatment of those with mild to moderate mental health issues in school. It will also help children and young people with more severe needs to access the right support and provide a link to specialist NHS services. The staff who will comprise the teams will commence training at Universities in January.
This scheme is funded by the additional £20.5 billion per year allocated by the Government to the NHS, announced by the Prime Minister in June. £2 billion of additional funding will specifically be spent on mental health services and help to ensure comprehensive mental health support is available in every major A&E, alongside new children and young peoples’ crisis teams across the country. The additional funding will also deliver more mental health ambulances, “safe havens” in the community; and a 24-hour mental health crisis hotline when people are in urgent need of help.
I am optimistic this scheme will not only help those in crisis, but reinforce to young people the importance of looking after their mental health.