It is incredibly important to protect and support the health of children and young people in our society. In recent years we have made huge progress in understanding mental health issues. Approximately 10 per cent of 5 to 16 year olds have a clinically diagnosable mental health problem. Since 2015, an additional £1.4 billion has been invested to transform children and young people’s mental health services.
The Children and Young People’s Mental Health Green Paper sets out ambitious proposals to improve mental health services for children and young people, together with over £300 million of funding. This will incentivise and support schools and colleges to train designated leaders for their pupils’ mental health, and introduce new mental health teams, both of which will ease pressure on NHS mental health services.
The NHS Long Term Plan makes a commitment to offering children and young people the best start in life. As part of this, there is an additional commitment to deliver on the promises made in the Five Year Forward View for Mental Health so that 70,000 more children and young people will access treatment each year by April 2021. Moreover, by 2023/2024 at least an additional 345,000 children and young people aged 0-25 will be able to access support via NHS funded mental health services and school or college-based Mental Health Support Teams. These commitments are supported by an additional £2.3bn funding by 2023/24.
In addition, the NHS is on track to deliver new waiting time standards for eating disorder services by April 2021. Four fifths of children and young people with an eating disorder now receive treatment within one week in urgent cases and four weeks in non-urgent cases. Extra investment will enable maintained delivery of the 95 per cent standard beyond 2020/21.
Access to mental health support for children and young people during the COVID-19 outbreak is absolutely vital. NHS services remain open and leading mental health charities have been supported to deliver additional services through the £5 million Coronavirus Mental Health Response Fund. The NHS has also set up 24/7 open access telephone lines for urgent mental health support for people of all ages, for example through the Samaritans on 116 123 or through Childline on 0800 1111.